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What can you do in 2017 over the long
term to make sure your cat’s health is
the best it can be? Our resident vet, Dr.
Eric Barchas, outlines four areas where
you can make the most difference.
Cats depend on routines not
only in space but in timing.
Meghan Lodge gives tips on
what you can do before and
during holiday visits to ease
your cats’ anxiety.
RESOLVE TO BE THE
BEST POSSIBLE CAT
OWNER THIS YEAR
PREPARE YOUR CATS
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THE PROS & CONS OF
INCLUDING YOUR CAT
IN YOUR HOLIDAY CARD
Make your own holiday
card? And include your cat?
Great idea! … or … maybe
not. Laura Jaye Cramer and
her roommate did this, and
well, it was a lot harder than
they’d thought. Laura lists the
high and low points of the
Kim Campbell Thornton has
been writing about dogs and
cats for 31 years. She is the
award-winning author of more
than two dozen books and hun-
dreds of articles on pet care, health, and
behavior. Her muses are two Cavaliers and
in different situations, give her a
portable safe zone: her carrier. Line
it with her favorite blanket. Feed all
her meals in it. Take her for rides
around the house in it so it becomes
commonplace, not scary. Hide treats
inside it for her to find. Once she’s in
love with her carrier, she’ll willingly
enter it and feel secure during car
rides and at the veterinary clinic.
Take the scare out
of grooming care
When it’s done right, cats love being
groomed. Brushing can be as relaxing
for them as a massage — as long
as you don’t snag any tangles. But
toothbrushing and nail trimming?
Your cat can love those, too, if you
go gently and slowly.
Wait until she’s relaxed and half
asleep. Gently grasp a paw and press
down, extending a claw, and use a
nail trimmer to clip just before the
claw curves. Done. If she’s comfortable with that, try another one. If she
jerks away, come back another time.
Before then, practice touching and
stroking the paws to get her used to
Teach toothbrushing the same
way. Start by lifting the lip in different
areas to look at the teeth. When
your cat is comfortable with that,
rub one or two teeth with a gauze-wrapped finger. Eventually, graduate
to a finger brush with tasty fish-flavored toothpaste. Easy-peasy.
Make it a fear-free
“In cats, one of the main reasons
for pet owners not bringing cats in
more often is because of the fear
their cat experiences in the car ride
and the visit to the vet,” said Dr. John
Talmadge of Bigger Road Veterinary
Center in Ohio.
Take the 16-year-old cat he just
examined for the first time in four
years. The owner had been reluctant
to bring the cat because in the past
she had been so stressed during visits. This time was different.
“We immediately put the cat into
an exam room so she didn’t have to
be in a waiting area with dogs,” Dr.
Talmadge said. “We draped the ken-
nel with a towel sprayed with Feliway
to help calm the cat.”
The staff allowed the cat time
to come out of the kennel on
her own and let her sit in the sink
for the exam because she was
comfortable there. They sprinkled
catnip around the sink to relax the
cat further. These are all basic Fear
Free techniques that any veterinary
clinic can adopt.
“We were able to get a complete
exam with just a few hisses,” Dr.
Talmadge said. “We were able to
draw blood with minimal restraint,
never having to muzzle the cat. It was
a much better experience for the cat,
the owner, and for us.”