How often do you check out your cat’s health?

How often do you check out your cat’s health?

by Michael

Phew…a tough one for lots of us. When I mean is check some basics; things that often go wrong or that need managing.

I have a page on indicators of a healthy cat. But in this short article I would like to focus on just two topics (a) flea check and (b) mouth check.

From experience these are areas that we can check and which need checking routinely. The former is easier than the latter.

I am sure the regular visitors do regular flea checks. They are very regular people!

To check for fleas you need a flea comb (not a human nit comb by the way as the teeth are too widely spaced). A cat flea comb has 32 teeth to the inch. If you are flea combing regularly it will go through a double coat quite easily. If you don’t do it regularly it is hard to comb through a double or triple coated cat because the down undercoat is dense and very fine. This is a motivator to do it every day!

To ease the comb’s passage through the coat it can be angled off from the perpendicular with the teeth point away from you. This prevents the teeth digging in. But the teeth should go to the bottom of the fur. The better angle is perpendicular or towards you slightly.

The areas to comb are: all around the head, neck chin and shoulders. Followed up by a session at the end of the spine (at the beginning of the tail). You will find eggs and feces in that area. Fleas also inhabit the flanks of the cat but much less so. The prime areas for the flea are neck, shoulders and chin.

The comb should be passed through the same area of fur more than once because fleas move around. Fleas will be caught on the comb. Then you have to kill them fast. I crush them with my thumbnail and between the fingers. You can roll then over the teeth of the comb with your fingers which damages them sufficiently to stop them jumping whereupon you can crush then anyway you like! They pop when crushed.

A cat’s teeth and particularly the gums are a source of ill-health. Periodontal disease (gum disease) is quite common because we don’t naturally see our cat’s teeth and gums but modern cat food is not that great in respect of maintaining oral health.

Some cats hate their mouth being inspected. You can make that most cats…But it can be done and really should be done. Sometimes you read visitors saying that their cat smells. It is probably bad breath due to gum disease. It is an area that it easy to neglect.

Although a proper or full inspection of a cat’s mouth has to carried out under anesthetic by a vet we can do spot checks.

You can inspect a cat’s gums by raising the lips to expose the mucous membrane of the gums. The gums should be pink (sometimes they are pigmented, which is normal). If the cat is anemic or has poor circulation the gums will be pale. This is a nice diagnostic tool.

To open the mouth place the thumb and forefinger of your left hand (if you are right handed) against your cat’s upper cheeks and press in gently. Her mouth will open. The lower jaw can be pushed further open with the right hand. I restrain my cat by putting her in a thick towel and rolling her on to her side. This is calming for her and makes the process more manageable.

I do understand though that a lot of cats will resist strongly.

You can tell quite quickly if the gums are reasonably healthy or inflamed, swollen and red (diseased). The best area to look at is the outside of the upper and lower jaw.

That is the inspection. A vet visit will be required to deal with badly infected gums. A vet will clean them under anesthetic. There is a chance that a cat will be injured or killed by the anesthetic. This is a case of risk assessment.

I am not sure of the percentage of cats that die under anesthetic. It is somewhere between 1 and .01 percent I believe.

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How often do you check out your cat’s health?

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Oct 18, 2011
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Furminator, Redux
by: Grahame

Hi, Michael;

So nice to hear from you again.

My elderly girl cat is delicate as a meissen doll. She loves the Furminator. When her coat seems thick and a bit dull, I get out the Furminator. She comes running! I think that it combs out dead hair inasmuch as it does not seem to pull at the coat inordinately. On occasion, I go to it enthusiastically, and she does not seem uncomfortable; on the contrary, she wants more of it.

I have given thought: does a cat need to have her undercoat stripped artificially? My Airedales, when I had them, needed to have their coats stripped, as do Standard Poodles. All I know is that from my experience, using the Furminator on THIS cat helps keep her coat in beautiful, shiny condition. And she likes it.

Her coat is not the sort likely to mat. And the Furminator does not cut out mats; it would only pull at them painfully. As you know, the Furminator is not a cutting stripping comb.

This cat does not go out of doors, so she does not get exposed to cold, inclement weather. She is still a very conscientious self-groomer, too.

Bottom line: there are many ways to help a companion cat with grooming. If my girl did not take so eagerly to the Furminator, I should have long since put it away. I put it to her vote, you see. This cat can’t seem to get enough petting, massaging, visiting. She’s a very companionable, dear, precious domestic partner.


Oct 18, 2011
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Furminator
by: Michael

Hi Grahame, I have a Furminator and used it on my old lady cat when she was younger. I found it a bit too strong for her. She didn’t enjoy it. As you say it gets out a lot of undercoat hair. But I wondered if that was a good thing particularly if your cat is going out in the cold.

Is the hair that it combs out dead hair? Does it come out by itself in time?

I don’t quite understand the reason for it. Ordinary combing or brushing eliminates matting. Flea combing removes fleas but both don’t remove lots of hair.


Oct 17, 2011
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No worries Grahame
by: Dorothy

It is made for cats and dogs at 0.1% solution, I don’t worry about it. After you spray it on the thumb brush, very little gets in their mouth anyway. Directions suggest spraying in the mouth daily, but I think that is over the top. I use it maybe once or twice a month at most. It keeps his breath fresh, or at least fresher.

Again, the brand is Nolvadent.

dw


Oct 17, 2011
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Chlorhexidine
by: Grahame

Dorothy, my GP prescribed me a surgical wash which contains chlorhexidine. The label states: ‘WARNING; FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY. AVOID MUCOUS MEMBRANES’.

Are you sure that it is safe to get chlorhexidine in your cat’s mouth. And might the cat swallow some of it?

Any phamacists/chemists on POC?


Oct 17, 2011
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Thanks for the reminder
by: Dorothy

I just brushed Bigfoot’s teeth. He was doing so well with it this morning, I kept going…now he’s mad at me. But that is okay. He’s only had one professional cleaning since I’ve had the little old man, and that was under anesthesia. I’ll do what I can to keep his dental health in good shape so he’ll have a long and happy life.

I use a finger toothbrush very gently with a spritz of Novadent Oral Cleansing Solution with Chlorhexidine.

He doesn’t seem to mind it…until he does. But he’s a cat. What do you expect?

dw


Oct 17, 2011
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FURMINATOR
by: Grahame

Michael and Readers:

I strongly recommend a special combing device called ‘Furminator’, available where pet supplies are sold, and also, at good prices, by Amazon.com.

The Furminator is designed to comb out the undercoat, and does it ever do a good job! In its advertising are photos of piles of the fine under-fur combed out by this wonderful device. I use it regularly as part of my cat grooming, and it really makes the coat manageable and fine looking. (Do not use daily, only when the dense undercoat gets thick.) Furminator comes in various sizes, with models for both cats and dogs.



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