We’re always looking for more tips and tricks to help other pet parents. Please send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name, your cat’s name, an email address where you can be reached and the tip you have.
Tip #1: Use ceramic bowls, stainless steel or glass bowls to feed your cat. Plastic bowls can harbor germs and can also cause skin lesions and feline acne on your cats’ face because of oily residue leftover from the food. Make sure if they are ceramic they aren’t made in China as they can contain lead from the paint used in it.
Tip #2: If you need to defrost some raw food quickly, put it in a Ziploc plastic baggy. Seal it and place it in a bowl filled with very warm water for approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from baggy and serve along with the juices inside!
Tip #3: To help lower phosphorus levels for a cat with renal insufficiency or kidney disease, instead of buying low protein foods, use cooked egg white! This information is from Dr. Hodgkin’s’ book. Cooked egg white is high in quality protein and contains no phosphate. What you do is add cooked egg white (from a hard- boiled egg with the yolk removed) to wet cat food by chopping it up and mixing it into the food. What it does is reduce the amount of wet cat food you feed by adding enough quality protein from the cooked egg white, which has no phosphorus in it, to make up the difference in quantity, i.e. diluting the phosphorus while still providing the cat with top quality protein. Vets are starting to go a different way than recommending a lot protein diet as that’s not suitable for a carnivore, they need the protein! This is a good alternative to feeding something other than prescription diets.
Tip #4: A lot of cats won’t eat chunky or shredded food. They love those particular brands yet they only lick up the gravy and leave the food part. Try using a blender or food processor. Simply put the whole can of food in the processor and it makes a nice pate. Pour the gravy over the pate afterwards. You can also try using any leftover and mix it with a little bit of another brand they like and again blend it or put it in the food process. This really opens up food options!
Tip #5: For those of us who are out of the house all day, when feeding canned food, it can be worrisome to leave them with food in the morning and then nothing till we get home at night. If you freeze the food and leave it out when you leave, by mid day it is perfect, (mouse temperature)! Freeze ½ can squares that you put out in the morning. Works great.
Tip #6: When your kitty is being extra picky or is just not eating the new food, use food toppers. Get some freeze dried pet treats and crumble them up and sprinkle them on their food. You can also get some food toppers that come in shakers.
Tip #7: If you have a large number of pets to feed, go to the thrift shop and buy a stack of their mismatched glass and ceramic tableware (primarily saucers and salad/dessert bowls). It can give you a near-endless supply of clean dishes that don’t retain harmful residue. And at 25 or 50 cents each, if they break or go missing, who cares? For ceramics just make sure they’re meant for food and aren’t “decorative use only” souvenir type items, or they might contain lead. They should be fine as long as they’ve been made in the past 20 years or so, or older if their country of origin is the US, Europe or Japan. If you stay away from red, blue & purple; those glazes are the ones that primarily have lead. Clear glazes are safest.
Tip #1: When giving B12 or other injections, if you set them up for the shot by coaxing them down, doing some huggin’ and lovin’, “tent” the skin on the back of the neck and plunge. Then immediately offer a favored treat under their nose while rubbing the injection area to confuse the sensations. They don’t really notice, nor dread the shots.
Tip #2: When you have a large prescription bottle of B12 (100 mls) and want to use extra “light-blocking” precautions, take an empty plastic container of Oxy-Clean powdered laundry additive and put the bottle in there, cover and all. It fits perfect and doesn’t take up much room. A smaller B12 bottle can be inserted into a regular empty prescription pill bottle. Store in a cool, dry place at room temperature.
Tip #3: When giving pills, empty gel caps can be used to mask the taste, combine several medications in one pilling (as long as they are safe to give together), and remove sharp edges from cut pills. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have them, they can be bought online from capsuline.com, iherb.com, and other retailers. For cats, use size 3, 4, or 5. (Size three is the largest). Simply put the pills in the capsule (or crush them first and insert into gel cap with a small funnel) and administer (using a pill gun is easiest). Always follow with a water chaser (2-3ml) to ensure the capsule gets into the stomach and reduce the chance of esophageal irritation.
Tip #4: Instead of giving medications in Pill Pockets, which contain a lot of gluten, use a freeze dried treat. I use Purebiktes or Wholelife treats. Soak the treat in a little water until it’s saturated, insert the medication and make a meatball out of it. If you want to use these treats to give pills but they can still smell the pill inside the treat, put a little bit of non-fat cottage cheese on the outside of the treat after inserting the pill. The cheesy smell will help block the smell of the medication and your pet will get an extra flavor from the treat!
Tip #5: When pilling your cat, use a pill gun and dip the rubber-tipped end in some low-fat cottage cheese. That way when you pop the pill in your cat’s mouth, it’ll be slippery and just fly down his/her throat. Doesn’t stick to their tongue and they like the taste.
Tip #6: When giving a 5 mg dose of Prilosec to your cat, take a 20 mg capsule, empty and split it into 4 little piles, putting each little pile into an empty #3 capsule. Using a dark colored dish for this really helps to see the beads. You can use a small perfume funnel for this, a link for those are listed on the medications page under supplies. Breaking into a delayed release enteric coated tablet in order to split it can be dangerous because you aren’t giving the same dose each time. This way each little bead in the capsule is enteric coated so there is no risk of putting too much raw medicine in their tummy at once.
Tip #7: If your kitty is super hard to pill or refuses to eat anything added to their food and they are not eating well at all, your vet can give them a taurine shot that lasts up to a month. Taurine is a vital nutrient for cats and they cannot do without it. It also helps if you’re going away somewhere and pet sitters are caring for them, it’s one less thing for them to worry about. If your cat is on the medication ursodiol, you should supplement with 250-500mg per day due to increased urinary losses of taurine. There’s a possibility that chronic use of Ursodiol in cats may deplete the body of taurine.
Tip #8: When giving oral Zofran, crush the entire pill in a pill crusher. Use the measuring spoons I have listed above in Tip #6 for the natural remedies. Use the smallest size spoon (1/64th) and if giving your pet a 1/4 of a Zofran, scoop a full size of the smallest size spoon. If giving a 1/8th of a dose of the Zofran, cut that spoon size in half.
Tip #9: For Tylan (or Tylosin), The dosage for cats according to petplace.com
www.petplace.com/drug-library/tylosin-tylan/page1.aspx, is 2.5 to 5 mg per pound (5 to 10 mg/kg) every 12 hours. Take the cat’s weight in pounds and divide by 119 to get the number of mls to use. Take an insulin syringe and insert the proper amount of water that would equal the dose. Then use Amco Measuring Spoons which I use for everything, and see which spoon it fills properly. Use that spooned amount of Tylan for the proper dosage each time. I use empty gel caps to dose a kitty with Tylan.
Natural Remedies Tips:
Tip #1: When giving slippery elm bark, take a tablespoon of hot water and mix it with about 1/2 capsule of SEB powder. As it starts to cool, it will thicken. Sometimes you can add more powder and sometimes more water to get it to a thin enough consistency that you can fill a syringe. The easiest syringe to use is a 3ml, and fill completely. Then insert the syringe in the back corner of your cat’s mouth and let them drink it down. Just be sure to make it as thick as possible as it helps coat the lining of the GI tract, similar to Pepto Bismol. (NEVER use Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate). You can also use mix about 1/4 teaspoon of slippery elm bark powder with hot water for every 10 pounds of body weight. Mix well and let cool. They call it a “liquid band aid”. Slippery elm should be given at least two hours away from any other medications or supplements. 30 minutes isn’t long enough for the mucilagenous coating in the digestive tract to dilute enough to let absorption take place, mostly in the intestines. Many holistic vets believe that when given with a meal, it can inhibit the absorption of nutrients from the food. Here is the SEB that I use: Celebration Herbals Slippery Elm Bark Powder Bulk Tea Caffeine Free. For more information on SEB: http://www.littlebigcat.com/health/slippery-elm/
Tip #2: For diarrhea or constipation, add a teaspoon of organic canned pumpkin to your cat’s meal. Any canned pumpkin will do but Farmer’s Market Organic is the best one and seems to be the most tasty. Make sure it’s the 100% pumpkin and not the pie filling. Canned pumpkin is good for 7 days in the refrigerator but usually only tastes good for about 4-5 days. Place the remainder in ice cube trays and freeze. Then place them in baggies or a container immediately for freshness and defrost as needed or freeze 3 days worth at a time.
Tip #3: When giving your cat salmon, sardine and/or anchovy oil (or any fish oil), always keep it refrigerated and never let it get to room temp as it easily turns rancid. As you know, cats are sneaky, finicky, picky, little buggers. So not all of them will like it unfortunately. Like everything else with them, it has to occasionally be eased into their diet. Try sneaking a really tiny drop in their food at first and see if they’ll eat it. Or put a tiny bit on your finger and then rub it on their paw pads. They absolutely hate anything on their paws and will have no choice but to lick it up! They may get your floor a little oily in the process though so keep a towel handy. You can put some on your finger and rub it on their lower lip so they lick it up. Also, try taking a dehydrated or freeze dried treat and dipping it in the oil first. Keep trying, don’t give up. These oils are a great source of Omega 3’s and anti-inflammatories.
Tip #4: Use aloe vera for digestive issues instead of pepcid or other antacids. It works great for vomiting or inflammation, but be careful not to use too much as it has laxative properties and can cause diarrhea. Give it either in a syringe (dilute with water first) or mixed with food. One teaspoon of the aloe diluted with equal parts water; so 1 tsp. aloe, 1 tsp water and mix it. It’s fine to do that about 2-3 times daily but less if there’s not a lot of stomach upset. Or get your vet’s advice on how much to give. Works best if given about 30 minutes before eating. It must be 100% Pure distilled Aloe Vera, nothing else added. You can also put some in a spray bottle and give their coat a nice, soft, healing glow. Soothing for dry skin and dull fur. I use George’s Fractionally Distilled Aloe Vera Liquid made from aloe vera leaves. Only the latex part of the aloe plant (the aloes) are toxic to pets, which is not used here. Do not use aloe vera long term, no longer than two weeks at a time consistently.
Tip #5: For UTIs, bladder and other urinary problems, use NOW Foods brand D-Mannose powder. I recommend this brand because it’s 100% pure D-Mannose, vegetarian and no fillers. Using a tiny measuring spoon, measure 1/8th of the powder and use equal parts water, if not a little bit more. Can be added to food, or syringed into the mouth. This product works because it naturally helps by sticking to “undesirable” foreign substances, preventing them from sticking to the lining of the bladder. This is the brand I use: D-Mannose. And the measuring spoons I use are Amco Measuring Spoons. There are no measurements on the spoons but someone figured them out to be: 1/64th, 1/32nd, 1/16th and 1/8th.
Tip #6: Also for UTI, bladder, FLUTD, etc. try making some organic cornsilk tea. Steep a teabag for 30 minutes in hot water. Let cool and store in a container in the fridge for up to seven days. Syringe 1 CC of the tea, up to three times daily (or twice is fine), at room temperature for as long as the flare up is lasting. The cornsilk acts to calm the inflammation in the bladder lining and settle things down.
Tip #7: To control hairballs naturally and in a species-appropriate fashion, without the use of products that contain mineral oil or petroleum jelly, use egg yolks and/or egg yolk lecithin. HOW IT WORKS: Hairballs are the result of compromised GI motility. The hair does not pass the stomach, and gets bound with fat (thus that stinky gooey mess!). Lecithin is a fat emulsifier. Giving your cat egg yolk lecithin will help emulsify the fat binding the hair, enabling kitty to pass it more easily. This alone may work for healthy kitties, but many kitties, especially IBD kitties, have impaired GI motility. To address this, feed your cats one or two egg yolks per week (raw or cooked does not matter: you can mix it into food). Egg yolks provide many nutritional benefits, but what concerns us here is the nutrient, choline. A component of choline is acetylcholine. Acetylcholine acts as a major neurotransmitter for the autonomic nervous system (which includes the GI tract). Acetylcholine improves peristalsis, pushing food more efficiently through the digestive tract. An added benefit of choline is that choline has been shown in clinical studies to improve memory and clinical signs of cognitive symptoms of dementia disorders. Using choline to prevent hairballs may also protect your kitty from developing dementia in her senior years. If using an egg yolk lecithin supplement, start small and work up as needed. Start with ½ capsule sprinkled onto food every other day. Keep an eye on the litter box: some cats may develop diarrhea before a completely effective dose is reached. Do not exceed one full capsule 2x a day. The effective maintenance dose during shedding season will be higher than in fall and winter. You may not need to use the lecithin supplement if you include one or two egg yolks weekly. Because I use one egg yolk per cat weekly, and still need 1/2 a capsule daily of lecithin for my three boys that are the worst hairball offenders. And during shedding, they need a full capsule 2x a day, despite the weekly egg yolk. You do not have to feed a full egg yolk at a time: some find ¼ egg yolk added to four meals a week to be effective in hairball prevention. As with all things IBD, it depends on your kitty. Warning: acetylcholine also increases GI secretions. This may be a problem for kitties with ulcers.
Other Useful Tips:
Tip #1: Seasonal Allergies: Your pet is just as susceptible to pollen allergies as we humans are, especially when they’ve got a compromised immune system. Keep your window sills clean, wipe them down with soap and water or a mixture of vinegar and water. Give your kitty a good wipe down with kitty wipes (preferably the Tropiclean allergy ones, they have no chemicals or bad ingredients or even just a soft cloth with water a couple of times a week during high allergy days to get that pollen off their fur! Keep their ears clean and free of pollen and mites. If their eyes get red and irritated you can use pure saline or Thera Tears to give them some moisture. Use a furminator to get the extra layer of fur off (should only be done once to twice a month at most) and brush them OFTEN. Give them L-lysine daily in their food or at least 3-4 times per week for respiratory and eye issues and give hairball treats from Vet’s Best. You can also subscribe to a daily email of your local area’s pollen count and they’ll tell you the numbers and specifically what pollen is active at that time: www.pollen.com/allergy-weather-forecast.asp.
If respiratory/allergies and/or terrible itching of the skin are uncontrollable, ask your vet about Zyrtec. These articles are really worth reading, especially if your pet has symptoms of eosinophilic diseases. The more I read about this condition, the more I think in IBD kitties, it can be a side effect of their inflammation in the intestines. Zyrtec can also work well to calm stomatitis in cats.
Why I Love Zyrtec for Cats
Eosinophilic diseases; Skin Diseases from Allergies in Cats
For insect bites or stings you could use the fractionally distilled clear aloe vera liquid. It works great as a wound cleaner and healing agent.
PLEASE remember that if you have to use pesticides for any reason, remove clothing and shoes immediately when entering the house, wash yourself up very well (showering would be best, also washing your hair) and wash your clothing in the laundry. Pesticides are sometimes a necessary evil, especially when you have a horrible pest infestation that’s doing some major damage. Also remember to close your windows before you spray or apply anything on your property as the wind can bring it in the house. They are just like our kids and their systems need protecting as much as possible. A lot of those things can cause cancer and we need to be extremely careful. And don’t forget that so many of your kitties already have compromised immune systems and it doesn’t take much with a cat to tip the scales with them developing additional conditions. Being on steroids can also help that along so just be careful. It’s also a good idea when you’re mowing the lawn to shut the windows until you’re completely done and again, remove your shoes, shower and wash your hair.
Remove the cover from your cat’s litter box as ANY cat litter contains dust, some more than others. And all that does is contribute to their allergies and respiratory problems. The only cat litter I use is Dr. Elsey’s and I use the Respiratory Relief.
Tip #2: Inappropriate elimination and incontinence is often a big problem in kitties with IBD and other illnesses that are treated with prolonged steroid use. When all else fails to fix the problem try using kitty diapers that will catch urine but let the cat poop in the litter box normally. To keep them clean, try taking them to a groomer every other month for a sanitary groom. In between those grooming sessions, wipe kitty’s butt down with a damp wash cloth every time you change their diaper (could be two or three times a day). Only use diapers that are made of cotton fabric and are completely machine washable. You can also put a half an incontinence pad in the diaper to absorb the urine.
There are companies that make diapers specifically for pets with these issues, here’s an example of one: www.castlepaws.net/studpants.html. This particular company offers various sizes of diapers, has a sizing chart on her site, as well as instructions for measuring your kitty to determine what size they are – and they do also special orders. Try doing a google search for cloth pet diapers or even check places like Ebay for other companies.
Tip #3: A list of kitty household “must haves”: These are for emergencies, illness, stress, injuries, etc. Everyone should have a good set of nail clippers and quick-stop, or another type of styptic powder or gel to stop toenail bleeding. Several pairs of gloves – preferably non latex – you can have a box handy, but a first aid kit should contain at least 2 pairs. Sterilized gauze bandages and pads, tweezers, thermometer, scissors, cotton swabs, adhesive tape (to secure bandages) all should be included in any first aid kit (for our pets & ourselves). Also include an oral feeding syringe, there are different sizes but one that holds 2 teaspoons is good for the kit. Those who give pills often should include a pill gun and pill splitter, pill pockets for easy pilling and/or #3 gel caps in case you need to give multiple medications or something terrible tasting. Insulin syringes if your pet is diabetic or you’re giving B12 injections. Also keep some pepcid A/C regular strength tablets available with the permission of your vet for a kitty with chronic illness, for nausea and vomiting and when they aren’t eating because of an extremely upset tummy.
Jar of Beech Nut baby food, chicken or turkey. Make sure there is NO garlic or onions in them as they are toxic to pets. Also a couple of cans of tuna in order to entice them to eat if they’re feeling ill or nauseous. Not to be fed all the time, but good for those occasions. A couple of cans of pumpkin (preferably organic). A teaspoon in food helps to regulate either constipation or diarrhea naturally and soothes the bowels.
Nutrical – not the best ingredients but invaluable when caring for a sick animal or fostering other pets and trying to get them to eat. This helps greatly in trying to avoid liver damage and making sure they’re getting enough calories during illness.
May also want to include some catnip, freeze dried treats, and a cat toy (fuzzy ball, laser light, etc.). If you are in an emergency situation, familiar toys or catnip can help calm kitty down and the treats are great for distraction while you bandage him up. Feliway spray – spray in carriers for calming before vet visit. Also to spray around an area that is being peed on to discourage that behavior. Rescue remedy – calming before vet visit, kids in house or any other stress.
For an evacuation or ‘bug-out’ kit make sure to include some of kitty’s food, but also make sure to rotate it out so it doesn’t expire. Guidelines suggest having enough canned & dry food and water stored for 3 days. Always keep a list of vet and emergency numbers/addresses, medication lists and dosages, and copies of other medical records. You should also include a flashlight and an emergency radio, but also one of those small flash lights as it can be useful for looking at your pet’s eyes, ears and in the mouth – but also if there’s a power outage or the cat gets loose outside, etc.
Some own several cat strollers with a detachable carrier so you can transport pets in it and then attach it to the frame and push it. That way you can squeeze 2-3 kitties in together. You can also have 1 or 2 collapsible cat carriers, that can hold 1-2 cats each.
You can buy a bunch of WonderBox disposable cat pans that can be used as a litter boxes. Also have collars with your pet’s names and phone numbers attached. You do not need to have the collars on your cats if they are indoor only but put the collars on if they go outside the house and make sure your pets are all microchipped as well.