Vet Trips Made Easier

Amy D. Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant and the award-winning author of 23 pet care books, including “Complete Kitten Care” and “Pet Care in the New Century: Cutting-Edge Medicine for Dogs & Cats.” View more about Amy by clicking here:

Cats get the short end of the health care stick. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats visit the vet much less frequently than dogs. It’s not that felines are healthier (although cats do hide illness better) but many cats hate the vet so much their owners find it easier to just skip it. But even healthy cats need well exams once or twice a year.

Cats are adept at protecting themselves from stranger danger. What’s familiar is safe, while anything new or different raises kitty suspicions. A vet visit delivers a triple whammy by changing the cat’s routine, environment and exposure to strangers. Here are seven reasons cats hate the vet and how you can ease the angst.

Negative Crate Expectations. Cats learn very quickly to recognize cause and effect. The appearance of the cat carrier prompts kitty disappearing acts if used only for vet visits. Make the carrier part of the furniture and add a fuzzy bed or catnip toys inside to create a pleasant association.

Claustrophobic Car Rides. Though humans can look out windows and know what’s happening, the cat’s-eye view from the carrier offers movement without warning. Odd sounds and being in a strange environment raise cat blood pressure and might even prompt motion sickness. Covering the view with a towel over the carrier’s door helps some cats. But simply taking Kitty for many short rides around the neighborhood (and never going to the vet!) followed by treats or games can diminish nerves.

Scary Smells. Cats experience much of life through their noses. The array of unfamiliar smells found in a hospital — antiseptic, strangers, other animal’s fear — can ramp up the kitty fright factor. A pheromone product like Comfort Zone with Feliway that can be spritzed on a towel inside the carrier can help soothe environmental stress.

Strange Pets. Nothing turns felines into hiss-terical claw monsters like barking dogs or meowing cats. When confined inside a carrier, your frightened cat can’t flee, so the fight-or-flight instinct has no outlet. She may redirect her fear aggression on the nearest target — you or the vet staff. Ask to schedule your cat’s exam early in the morning or at slow times to avoid a busy waiting room. Some vet practices have separate waiting rooms and entrances for cats and dogs, so at least your cat never has to see or hear the mortal enemy.

Cold Exam Tables. Though cats may hate getting into their carriers, being dumped on a cold metal table elevates the “strangeness” of the experience significantly. After all, Kitty-Boy’s preferred lounging spots are the windowsill with a view, the soft top of the sofa, or a table underneath a warm lamp. Take along a towel or even the cat’s bed that smells like your cat to make the exam table more feline friendly. Some cat specialty practices have exam room windows with bird feeders outside or water fountains and fish tanks for kitty distraction.

Weird People Doing Weird Things. The vet and clinic staff love animals, but to your cat they’re from Mars. Maybe they wear uniforms and smell like dogs (spit!) and don’t ask permission to stroke his fur. A particular stressor is being handled by several people — the vet tech for getting a temperature or stool sample, for example, and later the veterinarian. Reducing the number of handlers may help. Scheduling enough time so the cat doesn’t feel rushed also can ease the tension.

Painful or Surprising Events. Needle sticks aren’t much fun. And a cold thermometer inserted into the nether regions is no way to make friends. It’s up to owners to offer treats or toys during and immediately after upsetting procedures to help change how cats feel about vet visits.

Cats remember discomfort, fear and bad experiences and expect them in the future. But they also remember good experiences and anticipate accordingly. Ask about taking your kitten for “fun visits” to meet and get used to the vet and staff, so he can simply play and be petted rather than examined and treated. Repeated happy visits take the scary out of the equation. Make vet visits more pleasant, and your cat will be happier — and healthier.


“Happy Cats are Healthy Cats”

Lynn Baer, DVM, Cat Specialist, shares her top tips for cat owners to ensure well adjusted, happy cats.  Lynn says, “happy cats are healthy cats and happy cats make owners happier and healthier, too”.

  Tip #1) Recognize the fact that indoor only cats have no choices of their own in life

They are completely reliant on what we offer them.  We choose their litter box size, shape, location and litter substrate. We choose where they are fed, what they are fed out of, and what foods they are offered.  We choose their toys, their beds, their bowls, and everything within their lives.  Cats have few choices of their own.   They would be happier given more choices of their own and once owners understand that and begin to expand their options, cats would remain healthier and happier. 

Tip #2) Bring the outdoors in 

Cats are held captive within four walls for their entire lives.  Open the blinds, open the windows, grow grass, bring leaves and branches in for them to smell. Again for owners to be more aware of the fact that their cats have never walked on grass or soil, experienced changes in temperature, smelled different smells, or had the ability to walk around the block to explore new surroundings.  Owners should evaluate every opportunity to enhance their indoors cat’s lives by bringing new things into the home.  Build catios, window units or other alternative opportunities for cats to experience the outdoors.  At a minimum place window seats around the house (off the ground), build vertical spaces for them to climb, train them to walk on leashes, erect cat proof fences, etc.

 Tip #3) Play, play, play and more play

Indoor cats are bored, depressed and inactive.  Owners don’t generally play with their cats daily.  Cats need exercise, mental stimulation and fun.  Having a basket of toys for cats is not enough.  Owners should actively engage with their pets by using wand toys, laser lights, throwing blankets over furniture to create tents, rotating toys daily.  Adding silvervine, catnip, and valerian to their arsenal of toys will give cats new experiences.  Using foraging toys for food rewards, making cats hunt for some of their food all help to stimulate their body and mind.

Tip #4) Lots of scratch posts – both vertical and horizontal for cats to scratch on. 

I am completely opposed to declawing (having never performed one in my entire career).   Scratching is a form of communication and also gives cats the ability to stretch their muscles.  It is important they have great areas and substrates to scratch on.  It makes them happy.

 Tip #5)  Seek out cat only veterinarians

Don’t allow a veterinarian who declaws to treat your cat.  Take your cat to a vet at least once a year for a good physical exam and blood work.  Cats are notorious for hiding pain and illness and if an owner thinks their cat is sick, they are likely very sick.  Pay attention to any changes (no matter how small) and seek veterinary care immediately.  Age is not a disease and many owners ignore signs of illness as due to advanced aging.  That is not in a cat’s best interest.  Owners need to advocate on behalf of their pets and insure good medical care.  Seek second opinions.  Good veterinarians encourage owners to do so and are never offended by it. 

 Tip #6) Cats need wet food more than dry

Wet food is lower in calories and higher in protein and moisture.  It is extremely important to feed cats at least 5-6 times daily.  Don’t feed one brand or diet only.  Variety is the spice of life and cats are used to eating birds, squirrels, rats, mice, chipmunks, bugs, etc.  One diet or one brand is not normal.  Either is feeding once or twice a day.

 Source:  The Purrington Post

Editors Note:  Find many of the toys, scratchers, outdoor enclosures and cat furniture mentioned in this article right here.


Best Pet Friendly Cities – do you and your cat live in one?

We thought you might be interested in seeing how your city stacks up to the top 100 pet friendly cities.  WalletHub (August 8, 2017) provides this useful data.

“Since we live in a pet friendly city, does that mean we need to be friendly with one another?”

Years ago, pet owners had access to only a handful of businesses offering animal services and supplies.  But new pet businesses are cropping up every day to fill the demand of this growing breed of consumers. Today, we spoil our pets with all kinds of luxuries, such as gourmet pet cuisine, upscale hotel accommodations and even pet “dating” services.

With pet parents in mind, the 100 largest U.S. cities were analyzed across 21 key metrics. The data set ranges from minimum pet-care provider rate per visit to pet businesses per capita to walkability.

Here they are:

Overall Rank* City Total Score ‘Pet Budget’ Rank ‘Pet Health & Wellness’
‘Outdoor Pet-Friendliness’ Rank
1 Scottsdale, AZ 65.93 80 1 2
2 Phoenix, AZ 63.54 12 6 10
3 Tampa, FL 61.48 10 9 19
4 San Diego, CA 60.56 85 2 6
5 Orlando, FL 59.81 27 4 47
6 Birmingham, AL 59.37 3 21 50
7 Austin, TX 58.26 43 3 54
8 Cincinnati, OH 57.19 13 27 28
9 Atlanta, GA 56.73 24 5 75
10 Las Vegas, NV 56.73 63 15 9
11 Oklahoma City, OK 56.13 1 33 77
12 Plano, TX 56.09 58 8 27
13 St. Petersburg, FL 55.91 21 34 23
14 Colorado Springs, CO 55.51 56 19 21
15 Sacramento, CA 54.95 66 20 18
16 Tucson, AZ 54.47 16 31 42
17 St. Louis, MO 54.37 18 36 36
18 Gilbert, AZ 54.22 41 11 65
19 San Antonio, TX 53.74 8 38 64
20 Miami, FL 53.65 33 12 72
21 Seattle, WA 53.28 88 14 17
22 Denver, CO 53.25 77 7 53
23 Albuquerque, NM 53.04 14 86 13
24 Bakersfield, CA 52.80 22 57 32
25 Henderson, NV 52.80 34 77 5
26 Portland, OR 52.78 94 10 7
27 Los Angeles, CA 52.65 96 13 4
28 North Las Vegas, NV 52.52 31 66 22
29 Columbus, OH 52.26 4 64 57
30 Tulsa, OK 51.36 15 42 74
31 San Francisco, CA 50.97 99 16 1
32 Fremont, CA 50.90 82 45 12
33 Glendale, AZ 50.87 53 26 56
34 Omaha, NE 50.47 17 54 66
35 Dallas, TX 50.44 84 18 41
36 Fort Worth, TX 50.43 50 28 69
37 Long Beach, CA 50.41 86 43 11
38 Irvine, CA 50.31 97 29 3
39 Houston, TX 50.03 52 25 71
40 Chicago, IL 49.97 83 17 52
41 Greensboro, NC 49.91 5 48 73
42 Chandler, AZ 49.83 64 24 63
43 Corpus Christi, TX 49.78 9 72 85
44 Arlington, TX 49.76 38 52 59
45 Garland, TX 49.26 47 51 60
46 St. Paul, MN 49.05 40 75 35
47 Pittsburgh, PA 48.97 45 82 26
48 San Jose, CA 48.94 44 70 25
49 Lexington-Fayette, KY 48.93 32 41 93
50 Raleigh, NC 48.92 42 30 84
51 Boise, ID 48.75 49 78 31
52 Nashville, TN 48.59 70 23 79
53 Indianapolis, IN 48.31 20 35 96
54 Mesa, AZ 48.30 69 37 70
55 Chesapeake, VA 48.28 72 67 24
56 Jacksonville, FL 48.21 55 32 86
57 Madison, WI 48.11 67 73 30
58 Memphis, TN 47.97 25 40 98
59 Kansas City, MO 47.71 19 80 62
60 Minneapolis, MN 47.65 74 55 44
61 Virginia Beach, VA 47.65 57 47 83
62 Riverside, CA 47.61 75 63 29
63 Stockton, CA 47.49 39 87 38
64 Fresno, CA 47.46 28 69 48
65 Lincoln, NE 47.44 23 81 61
66 Anaheim, CA 47.40 93 22 39
67 Chula Vista, CA 47.23 81 56 40
68 Oakland, CA 46.85 89 53 33
69 Irving, TX 46.57 47 60 89
70 Winston-Salem, NC 46.51 30 71 91
71 Durham, NC 46.26 29 65 90
72 Aurora, CO 46.25 62 49 82
73 Wichita, KS 46.02 36 50 99
74 New Orleans, LA 45.96 68 74 51
75 Hialeah, FL 45.62 71 61 68
76 Toledo, OH 45.55 6 91 58
77 Louisville, KY 45.47 35 58 94
78 Fort Wayne, IN 45.45 2 83 100
79 El Paso, TX 45.28 37 94 43
80 Washington, DC 45.20 95 59 16
81 Baton Rouge, LA 45.12 51 44 95
82 Lubbock, TX 45.04 26 89 87
83 San Bernardino, CA 44.77 61 93 15
84 Laredo, TX 44.66 6 95 67
85 Cleveland, OH 44.56 46 79 78
86 Reno, NV 43.99 79 68 76
87 Jersey City, NJ 43.73 92 85 14
88 Detroit, MI 43.44 54 84 80
89 Norfolk, VA 43.43 72 88 46
90 Milwaukee, WI 43.20 11 97 81
91 Charlotte, NC 42.86 78 46 97
92 Anchorage, AK 42.21 87 96 20
93 Philadelphia, PA 41.58 90 90 37
94 Buffalo, NY 41.36 60 92 88
95 Santa Ana, CA 41.34 91 76 55
96 Boston, MA 41.29 59 98 45
97 New York, NY 41.29 100 62 8
98 Honolulu, HI 39.69 76 100 34
99 Baltimore, MD 39.40 65 99 49
100 Newark, NJ 38.89 98 39 92

*No. 1 = Most Pet-Friendly


How to be the best cat owner you can be


Guest Blogger:  Jessica Brody –  Jessica enjoys writing about cats and dogs.  See her blog for additional photos and posts).


A cat is a great pet who can be just as loving a companion as a dog. It’s important to know, however, that cats are not dogs. They react differently to situations, learn and “train” differently, and require differing approaches to care. Here are some tips for being a great cat owner.

Know how to properly feed your cat

 Cats are carnivores, plain and simple. You can’t feed your cat a vegan diet and expect it to stay healthy.

“Money saved by buying cheap cat food will be spent hundreds of times over on veterinary care. Cats are obligate carnivores and need a good source of meat protein. They do not need large amounts of grain fillers, especially corn, which is a cheap source of protein used by many cat food manufacturer,” notes The

Check your cat’s stool. If it appears too dry, you might want to switch to a wet food diet for a while or at least alternate between wet and dry food throughout the week.

And remember – don’t feed your cat milk, despite what all of the cartoons say. It can be harmful to them in many cases.

Make sure your cat gets enough exercise

It’s a myth that cats don’t need exercise. Sure, they don’t need as much as a dog – but cats that don’t exercise can develop a bevy of health problems, including heart disease and obesity.

… How do you ensure that your cat is getting enough exercise? The best way is to simply play with them for 15-30 minutes. If you have a fenced-in backyard, let them run around for a while. Make use of laser pointers. Your cat really will chase them for a long time. If your cat is suffering from obesity…talk to your vet about this more extreme exercise plan.

Give them a place to scratch

Cats will scratch. Like death and taxes, it’s a certainty of life. Make sure your cat has plenty of scratching posts to utilize. Never ever consider declawing a cat, even if they live indoors 100% of the time. It’s inhumane.

 Ensure pet family cohesiveness

One of the biggest challenges cat owners face is making sure the cat gets along with the other household pets – usually a dog. It’s important to remember that dogs and cats socialize in different ways, so “training” your cat the same way you trained your dog is not likely to have an effect on their behavior.

What you need to do is be mindful of the energy of the animals in your household. “It’s your responsibility to keep the family balanced by keeping the dog at the highest level of calm-submissive behavior, allowing the cats to become calm-assertive in front of him,” notes famed trainer Cesar Millan.

If your cats are showing aggression toward each other, it’s a different story with a different set of solutions. First, you should never let cats work through their issues with fighting. It just doesn’t work like that for them.

“Never let the cats ‘fight it out.’ Cats don’t resolve their issues through fighting, and the fighting usually just gets worse. Interrupt aggression with a loud clap of your hands or spray from a water gun,” says the ASPCA.

Once you separate your cats just leave them alone. Don’t try to soothe them the way you might try to calm a dog. You can also try to separate your cats’ resources – food, water, and toys.

Do your research on proper cat care. There are a lot of myths out there about cats, and some of them can be harmful.

Photo Credit:

(Editor’s Note:  The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by guest bloggers on this web site do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of or its staff.)



Why hire a cat sitter for a short week end absence?



Companion cats rely on their humans for food, water and the occasional treat. Other than needing food and water, cats seem to prefer an independent life. So why not just set out a three-day supply of it when you leave the house for a long weekend?

Two keys reasons.   First, your cats need companionship, whether it’s yours or whether it’s someone with whom you entrust their care.  Keep their stress levels down by providing them with the attentiveness of a caregiver.  A qualified cat sitter will ensure that your cats have adequate food, water and supervision.  Second, your cat sitter will contact the veterinarian if your cats become ill or injured.

If your cats need special attention or medication, it’s all the more important to make sure your cat sitter visits your home at least once or twice a day.   Administering meds should be as consistent a routine as possible, for the cat’s well being.  A cat’s health can deteriorate quickly (you may have experienced firsthand with your cat) and the right care may save your cat’s life.

According to professional sources, it takes about 30 minutes for a professional cat sitter to care for one cat per visit. During the visit, the sitter will feed and water your cats and change the litter box. A cat sitter also will play with your cats, so be sure to leave plenty of toys — including a few new ones to keep your cats entertained.

If you hire a less experienced person, such as a neighbor or friend, make sure you choose someone reliable who will be able to come by at least once a day for at least 30 minutes.   For cats who don’t need special medical attention, a capable friend is a satisfactory option.

Be sure to ask any cat sitter about their previous cat care experiences.   Keep in mind professionals are typically insured, which provides additional peace of mind.  Professionals should provide you with at least two references and you should follow up with them.  You should also ask them what would they would do if your cat becomes ill or if there is an emergency.

Leave out a full set of care instructions for your cat sitter, including the location and frequency of feeding, litter box cleaning,  locations of toys, treats, and grooming tools.   A complete set of instructions should be provided for medications and where those are kept.  Provide your phone numbers for emergencies and the number of your vet’s office and emergency vet’s office (if different).  Professional sitters should come out to your home ahead of time to meet your cat(s), become familiar with where their things are located and ask questions.

Hire a qualified cat sitter and give yourself and your cats the gift of peace of mind when you need to go away.