Thursday, May 26, 2011

Advice for Cats Concerned about Vaccinations

Please answer my question, I am a tiny kitten, only eight weeks old, so really do not know much, but recently I was taken to the veterinarians office, while there the vet did a bunch of stuff to me but the only thing I am worried about is that they poked me in my back, they said it was “needles”. What the heck was that about?
Signed Poked Kitten

Dear Kitten
There are a couple of things that could have happened to you at the veterinarian's, and neither are bad. Your owner may have had the veterinarian implant a microchip identification under your skin, this is usually done along your back and is harmless. The benefits of having a microchip are that if you get lost, shelter workers, or another veterinarian, can scan the chip and it will give them a code number which they can use to find out who owns you.

Another thing that veterinarians do to kittens (and cats) is they give them needles that are vaccinations against diseases. A needle is a thin metal stick with a hole in it to put in medicine. Usually the vet will try to pinch the skin so it does not cause you much pain, but sometimes you do feel it. In Canada, and many other places, such as the United States, cats are given what is called a 5-way vaccination, as well as a rabies shot. Rabies is not a problem in some areas, such as the United Kingdom.

A 5-way feline vaccination includes vaccinations against Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Chlamydia, and Feline Leukemia Virus. You will have to go back to the veterinarian to get these shots boostered in about a month, and they really are not effective until a few days after the booster shot. Even still vaccination is not a 100% guarantee that you will not get sick, but they do help lower the risk.

I am a beautiful Persian cat, and my owner has decided to keep me indoors. We are wondering if I still need to be vaccinated?
Signed Don't Stick me with that Needle

Dear Stick me
Your owner really should consider getting you vaccinated with your first set of shots, booster shots, as well as your rabies vaccination, if needed in your area, even if you are to be an indoor only cat. These vaccinations are especially important while you are young and are required if you are going to be attending any cat shows, or going to a boarding kennel. Other cat owners who visit you could spread disease too you, and if your owner works where there are other cats they could also bring diseases home on their clothing.

If rabies is a risk in your area, even if you are indoors only, you should get your rabies shot too, because if you do happen to bite somebody and are not vaccinated, you will be placed on a 10 days rabies hold, which is no fun.

So, I do suggest you at least get your owner takes you for your first set of feline vaccinations, and boosters, as well as your rabies vaccine. Your owner can decide if they want to continue with vaccination boosters in the following years, even if you are to remain as an indoor only house cat.  Most veterinarians are gentle and it should not hurt at all, plus the vet can check you over to make sure you are healthy and doing well in general.

Read More about Cat Health

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Advice for Pets Eating Other Pet's Food

Question:  Hi, I am a Guinea Pig, my owner also has a rabbit and ran out of my food recently.  They have been giving me the rabbit food, which tastes okay, but I just do not seem to feel as good lately.  I am wondering if this is because of the food?

Signed GP the GP

Dear GP

You are quite right to guess this is food related.  Guinea pigs require food that has Vitamin C added.  If your owner is feeding you rabbit food they should give you another source of vitamin C to make up for the fact that rabbit food does not contain vitamin C. 

Vitamin C deficiency in Guinea Pigs will cause weight loss, fur loss, and sometimes a discharge from the nose.  You will not feel as healthy over all, and may have trouble breathing, or be sore all over (you may even yelp when your owner picks you up).

If you get this sick your owner needs to take you to a veterinarian for help. 

File:Small Guinea Pig.jpg
photo source - a healthy looking Guinea pig

Question:  I am a cat.  I live with a dog, and normally I do not mind the dog one bit, but lately he is eating my food.  I find this infuriating - he drools!  I often find my bowl empty as the dog has eaten all my food, and although there is some dog food in his bowl it really does not interest me.  How can I get the dog to stop eating my food?

Signed Kitty

Dear Kitty

I am sure the dog eating your cat food is annoying, but cat food is also bad for dogs so the dog should not be eating it.  Cats are true carnivores, your cat food contains more meaty ingredients which is why the dog is so attracted to your cat food.  Cat food has more protein and more fat than dog food, and could give the dog diarrhea. 

Additionally cat food is more expensive than dog food so if the dog is eating it they are costing your owner more money.

Cats should definately not eat dogs food.  Dog food does not have enough meat protein in it for cats, and more importantly it does not have taurine.  Taurine deficiency will show with problems such as poor vision, heart problems, poor growth (if you are a kitten), reproductive problems, poor skin and coat, and dental problems.

Your owner should find a place higher up to put your cat food so the dog cannot get at it. 

Read also, Should Cats and Dogs Eat Each Others Food?

Help for Birds who Cannot Fly

Question:  Hello, I am a bird but for some reason I cannot fly. I know I should be able to fly, I see other birds flying, but I simply cannot fly. What is wrong with me, how can I fly?

Signed Flightless in Seattle

Dear Flightless

There are many reasons why a bird cannot fly, some birds are flightless naturally. Kiwis and penguins are two types of flightless birds, chickens are semi-flightless, they can fly but not for long and cannot get terribly high. You did not say what kind of bird you were, are you a chicken? Sometimes fowl are fed so much that they become too heavy to fly properly.

Other birds cannot fly if they are young, but eventually reach a point where their wings are strong enough to fly a short distance, and later they can fly farther. If you are young just keep flapping your wings to build muscles and one day your parent bird will encourage you to take flight or will leave you, forcing you to take flight and find your own food.

If you are a pet bird there are two other things that could hamper your ability to fly. Your owner may have clipped the flight feathers on your wings. Some people do this to stop birds from flying away. If done correct this is painless and you will grow flight feathers again (unless they are clipped).

File:Clipping chicken wing.jpg

The other thing that may happen to pet birds is that the cage itself does not provide enough room for flight, resulting in muscle atrophy. Basically your wing muscles are too weak for decent, prolonged, flight.  Many pet birds are kept in tall cages that offer very little flight room.  Most bird would be happier (and may even be healthier) in a large aviary, or if given time out of their cage for decent flight.

If you are feeling pain in either wing you could have sustained an injury which would leave you unable to fly.

Some wing injuries will heal on their own, some will not.  If you are a wild bird hopefully somebody will find you and take you to a wildlife rehabilitation center, if you are a pet bird hopefully your owner will take you to the veterinarian.

Another thought would be that perhaps you are moulting and have lost some of the flight feathers that you need, or that your feathers need to be preened better for flight.  Or you may even be a mutation that has feathers that are simply not practical for flying.

Further Reading for Bird Owners

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Advice for Cats that Want to Go Outside

Dear Animal's Advice:

My owner is a prison warden holding me prisoner. I am a male cat and it is spring, I would really like to be outside now. There is so much to do outside. Why is my owner so cruel to keep me indoors, how can I escape?

Signed Jailcat

Dear Jailcat

It may seem to you that your owner is being mean by keeping you indoors, but your owner is actually doing you a favor, and is being a responsible cat owner. It is recommended by nearly every animal welfare group, including the SPCA, and humane society, that cats be kept indoors only and not allowed to roam freely even if laws allow it.

Cats who go outside face many risks. Being hit by a car is probably the most common risk, but cats who are outdoors are also at risk of being poisoned by neighbors (either intentionally, or accidentally). Cats who go outside are often taken and dumped in other parts of town because other people don't like them being out (pooping in the yard, spraying, meowing, digging). You are at risk for diseases from other cats, cat fights, and even other animals – depending where you live.

Cats who go outdoors are said to have much shorter lifespans, on average, than cats who are indoors only. On farms the average outdoor only cat only lives to one year of age (although certainly many live longer, most die while young). In most cities the average lifespan for a cat that goes outdoors is two years, cats who are kept indoors only often live well into their teens.

If you are not neutered this could also be a reason your owner has you confined indoors only. Male cats who are not neutered tend to roam further, and can get lost, as they look for female cats. They also tend to get into more fights and will “spray” to mark territory – which lots of people do not like. Cats who are not fixed (spayed or neutered) should not go outside at all.

As well a cat who is not vaccinated should not go outside.  Cats who are declawed should not go outside either!   It is just too risky, what if you are attacked?  You cannot climb a tree.  Some declawed cats try to look tough by fighting back but that is a bad idea too as you have no weapons. 

What I am saying is that your owner is not being cruel, they are being responsible.

An other idea is a “catio” or cat enclosure. This would be an area that is built so you can go outside without leaving your owners property. Some people go so far as to put up a cat fence around their yard to contain their feline, or have it leash trained. Leash training a cat takes time and you should not be tied up outdoors or you could be at risk from cat thieves, wandering dogs, and so forth.