Cats are unique with their own
needs and quirky.
Any true cat person knows that a cat certainly deserves its own pet ownership (or servitude) manual, but you may not realize just how different the make-up of these mysterious creatures is. Below are eight major ways that cats are in no way small dogs. Being aware of these may just save your cat's life.
8. Disease processes are not the same in dogs and cats.
Pancreatitis in the cat may cause anorexia, severe hypotension and hypothermia, without vomiting or obvious abdominal pain typically seen in the dog. Heart disease in the cat may be present as rear limb paralysis rather than respiratory distress. While it is your veterinarian's job to keep track of these differences, if you recognize that diseases look differently in cats than they do in dogs (or humans), you will save yourself some inadvertent misdiagnoses.
7. Flea medicines for dogs are not intended for cats!
One of the most common cat toxicities veterinarians see is the result of accidental application of dog’s products containing permethrin to cats. Most brands of permethrin “spot-on” products are labeled for “use in dogs only.” These permethrin compounds may be obtained over-the-counter in grocery stores or pet stores. The clinical signs occur a few minutes to hours after exposure and consist of depression, salivation, vomiting, muscle tremor, seizures, ataxia, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and death.
6. A dog that refuses food?
Except for teacup pooches and puppies, for the most part, dogs will recover fine after a few days without food. The same is not true with cats. If a cat stops eating, nutritional support needs to start sooner rather than later. Intervention to prevent hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) becomes a vet's number one priority in the anorexic feline patient.
5. A cat that doesn't urinate, specifically a male cat, is an emergency.
Male cats are at the highest risk for developing a much dreaded veterinary emergency: urinary obstruction. Neutered male cats have incredibly narrow urethras (the tube that drains the bladder to the outside world through the penis) and are prone to urethral obstruction. Trouble urinating is not something to wait and watch in felines.
4. Don't share medications between dogs and cats!
Aspirin and Tylenol are two examples where a dog may do fine after ingesting small amounts but a cat that gets into these drugs is at real risk for a fatal toxicosis. With this said, you shouldn't give your dog aspirin or Tylenol either, as they can be dangerous to dogs as well.
3. Cats cannot thrive on dog food!
Being carnivores by nature, cats require no carbohydrates but need high levels of meat-based protein. The cat's protein requirement is 50% higher for growth and over 100% for maintenance as compared to the dog. Cats lack certain enzyme systems that allow dogs to convert some nutrients into useable forms. Cats need higher levels of taurine, arginine, niacin, arachidonic acid, and vitamin A in their diets, and therefore, their own food!
2. Cats often hide illness.
While both dogs and cats tend to be more stoic than people, a dog will usually mope and make his sickness well known; a cat may simply retreat. Many owners do not realize their cats are sick until they stop eating, start vomiting, or exhibiting behavior changes such as hiding. By the time this occurs, many of our feline friends are in kidney failure, have significant heart disease, or are diabetic.
1. The mental health of the cat is often just as important as the physical health.
While many dogs are happy to hang out with anyone anywhere, cats are pampered pets that get very attached to their people and surroundings. Hospital visits by the owners are often helpful for sick cats, along with having familiar items in their cage. Blankets, bedding, and a box for the cat to hide in and obstruct their view of strange people and animals (as the conditions allow), reduce their level of fear and stress. With cats, we must think about far more than their medication schedule and test results when they are hospitalized!
In our country, cats outrank dogs as the most popular household pet. Despite the feline's reign, fewer cats are going to the vet each year. Don't be part of this trend. It is very important for cats to have yearly exams and full blood work.
When it comes to getting annual exams, cat parents may have trouble getting their feline to the veterinarian as cats often see their carrier as a torture device. Don't let it stop you getting your cat to the vet. Talk to your veterinarian about a sedative that might make your kitty more relaxed. As an alternative, you may also consider using a mobile veterinarian who offers house calls and will come to your cat. Either way, it’s important to ensure your cat gets the care they deserve to live a long and happy life.