(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
With the colder weather still here, you may assume your pet is safe from parasites — especially if your cat lives mostly or exclusively indoors. To the contrary, identifying the risk for parasites, such as fleas, ear mites and heartworms, and providing true pest protection for your pets has very little to do with the seasons.
“Back when I was in veterinary school, we believed there were parasite ‘seasons,’ ” said Chris Adolph, DVM, MS, DACVM, a board certified parasitologist, veterinary specialist at Zoetis and former veterinary practice owner in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. “Today’s highly variable weather patterns have resulted in the possibility of parasite transmission well beyond traditionally warmer months, and in turn, increasing the likelihood of infection or infestation to your pets.”
Cat owner Lauren Swern learned the hard way that even indoor cats can be afflicted with parasites and ultimately traced a flea infestation in her cat, Oreo, back to a pair of sneakers she’d worn in the garden.
After trashing most of Oreo’s toys and bedding, Swern’s veterinarian recommended a topical, broad-spectrum preventive. After treatment with Revolution, Swern’s home was again flea-free and continues that way thanks to monthly treatments she applies to her cat.
The best way to protect your furry feline friend year-round is by following a few simple tips:
Routine checkups. You may believe that once your kitten has received its vaccinations, you’re finished with veterinary visits. Actually, it’s important to continue taking your cat for annual examinations to help maintain a high quality of life. Cats tend to hide illness very well, and your veterinarian can help identify problems you may miss at home as well as guide you in areas such as dental care, nutrition and behavior.
Preventive medication. Regular use of a monthly parasite preventive, such as Revolution, can protect your cat from many common internal and external parasites. Along with fleas, broad-spectrum preventives can address risks related to heartworm disease, ear mites (Otodectes cynotis), roundworms (Toxocara cati) and hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme).
Behavior monitoring. Don’t assume that a cat that begins exhibiting behavior problems is simply acting out. Most undesirable behaviors, such as suddenly refusing to use a litter box or aggression, can actually be signs of illness. Consulting a veterinarian can help you determine the best course of action.
Consider the climate. Just as extreme temperatures can affect people, excess heat and cold may impact your cat. Cozy bedding in front of a bright window may provide just the right warmth in winter, but prove too toasty in the summer. Make adjustments throughout the year to keep your kitty comfortable as temperatures change.
Ample activities. Even mellow kitties can benefit from exercise, just like humans. Provide toys to encourage cats to keep active and healthy — and offer diversions such as scratching posts from temptations like carpet or furniture. Mental stimulation is also important. Placing birdfeeders or birdbaths outside of windows and hiding small amounts of food at different levels throughout the house for your cat to find can help keep your pet entertained as well as mentally sharp.
— Family Features
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)