How to tell if your pet has fleas
So it’s actually pretty simple to tell if your animal has fleas. First, they can have fleas and you may never see a flea because they don’t actually live on the animal’s body. Fleas only jump on the animal for a meal.
Push your animals fur in the opposite direction from the way it grows so you can see the skin. Do this is a few different places, but the best place to look is near the base of their tail on their back. If you see what looks like black dandruff, or black specks, your pet has fleas. The black specks are flea poop. If you want, you can put some of the specks on a wet paper towel which will turn the specks red (because it has blood in it).
So now what do you do? Avoid buying flea products from the pet store because, to put it simply, they don’t work. For cats my favorite flea product is Revolution. It is topical and absorbs through the skin on the back of the neck. I like Revolution because it doesn’t leave a sticky spot on your cats neck for a few days like other topical flea products. It costs about $20 per dose and you use 1 dose per month. Use for a minimum of 3 months to go through the compete life cycle of the fleas. If you have a cat who goes outdoors then year-round prevention is recommended.
***Please consider buying these products from your local veterinarian and not from large online pharmacies. Local businesses need your business to stay around. Buy local***
Revolution also is a heartworm preventative for both cats and dogs.
After you use a flea product the fleas won’t die immediately, but rather your cat is now a walking insecticide. So any new flea that bites that cat will no be able to reproduce and will die.
This image of the flea life cycle is from Capstar, which is a pill that you give to your pet that will kill adult fleas within 30 minutes. It is a great thing to use to start treating a flea infestation, but will have to be followed up with a prevents flea eggs from hatching. (Revolution and Capstar are only available from veterinarians or with a prescription from a veterinarian).
Any animal who goes outside will probably pick up fleas pretty quickly. Even indoor-only cats can get fleas, but I wouldn’t recommend getting a prevention unless you see evidence of a flea infestation.
***Drug companies will honor their product if there are any issues with it only if you buy them from your veterinarian, but not if you buy them from an online pharmacy. Another reason to buy local***
Feline Chronic Renal Failure
I found my beautiful black kitty Maya about a year and a half ago. Well, maybe she found me.
Anyway, she has had urinary problems since I’ve had her. So when I got a job in a vet clinic I decided to bring her in to check a urine sample. He decided to take x-rays to make sure she didn’t have any bladder stones. On the x-ray there were no bladder stones but he notice her kidney was a little oddly shaped. So we did some blood work and the results were definitely not what I expected. Kidney disease, or in other words, chronic renal failure.
I just can’t catch a break. My late best-cat-friend-love-of-my-life, Boo, died from chronic renal failure. It is a hard way to go because they just waste away until there is nothing left. And it’s a hard thing to watch when it’s your baby.
So what is this disease all about? It is very common in cats so I’ll provide some information on it because if you are an avid cat owner you will likely get firsthand experience with this at some point.
In order to know what happens when the kidneys fail, it first helps to know what the kidneys do while they are working.
- erythropoietin production, which is a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production (without it anemia sets in).
- filtration of waste products in the blood (a build up of waste in the blood is going to make anyone feel sick).
- the ability to concentrate urine, which can affect hydration.
- renin production, which is a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure.
- electrolyte regulation
All of these functions are critical for a good quality of life. When these are impaired quality of life goes down, and will eventually get to a point where life ceases.
The bad thing about this disease is that symptoms don’t start to show up until the kidneys are about 70% destroyed. There is no cure but there are things you can do to slow the progression of the disease, although it will progress to the end unfortunately.
So what are the symptoms?
Maya’s symptom was an abnormal amount of water intake and urination. I kept thinking it was a UTI but it is actually one of the early symptoms of kidney disease. My advice to you: if you have a cat who is drinking a lot more than usual, spend the extra money on a blood test. Blood tests can either rule out kidney failure or show that it is happening. It is better to know early so you can start diet modifications and treatment, which in the end will extend the life of your companion.
Symptoms of more advanced renal failure include:
- decrease in appetite
- weight loss
- uremic breath (smells like ammonia)
There are different stages to kidney failure and the symptoms above don’t start to show up until the advanced stages. I could write a book on feline chronic renal failure so I’ll just stop with this introduction. I will add more posts at a later time with more specific information about this topic.
My goal for my life at this point: Become a veterinarian and find a cure/really great affordable treatment for feline chronic renal failure.
Product Spotlight: Cats Map of the World
I have a love for maps. I could stare at a world map for an hour and not get bored.
And of course we all know I love cats, so combine the maps and the cats and you have a winner.
This is available on Etsy, and all the information about it is there as well.
There’s just nothing better than fresh kibble, right?!
Last fall my parents got a kitten, so they figured it was best to not put up a Christmas tree. I made one from scratch last year that was kitten-proof. This fall my parents again got a kitten, Jazpurr (yes, we went with the alternative spelling because he’s just a jazzy purr pants!). He just so happens to be the world’s cutest kitten.
So again we had to figure out how to tackle the Christmas tree situation. We figured we would go for a real tree because it may be less toxic if they ate it than an artificial tree. We also thought it would be too dense and prickly that the cats would leave it alone.
Oh how wrong we were.
Within 30 minutes of putting the tree up Jazpurr was in the tree chewing on branches.
When he came out he smelled like Christmas and was covered in sap.
So this led me to think, how do you keep cats safe around Christmas?
Artificial tree vs. Real tree
If your cat is determined to eat the tree, neither one is totally safe.
Real trees are mildly toxic and could potentially puncture the intestines if a lot of needles are ingested (most cats don’t actually ingest a large quantity of tree needles). Another concern is the water the tree stands in-it can grow bacteria that can cause diarrhea. Tree water sometimes has additives in it to keep the tree fresh, which could be toxic to cats. If you opt for the real tree be sure to keep the tree water covered.
With artificial trees you don’t have to worry about water or intestinal puncturing, but that doesn’t mean they are a better option. The tree material can contain toxins and are not digestible.
As a general rule if your cat is eating anything that isn’t something a cat should be eating, there is potential for complications. A lot of cats can keep their mouths off of the actual tree, but other things at Christmas can be more of a concern than the Christmas tree itself.
Working at a vet’s office I have never heard of cats having intestinal punctures from eating real trees, but that doesn’t mean that it never happens. Most cats don’t ingest enough tree material for it to cause any major problems.
Basically if your cat can’t be trusted make sure they are supervised while around the tree.
Common Christmas cat hazards
Tinsel: Just say no. Cats can’t seem to resist and nobody want a trip to the emergency vet over the holiday because your kitty ate a bunch of tinsel. It can get caught in their intestines and cause a blockage, which is an emergency.
Mistletoe and Holly: Both are toxic to cats so avoiding them around the holiday season is a good idea.
Lights: Chewing on the lights on the tree can cause kitty to get an electrical burn. If your cat has a history of chewing on cords I would suggest that your kitty only gets supervised time around the Christmas tree.
Help Maya get of the cover of Modern Cat Magazine!
I entered my beautiful baby into a cover photo contest with Modern Cat magazine. You can vote every 12 hours and all you have to do is click the link and then click “vote for me”. Pretty simple. She’s got a lot of catching up to do so let’s help her catch up!
Click here to vote!
I have been working almost full-time on top of taking Organic Chemistry, which is why I haven’t been updating.
However, I will come back in the near future.
So for now, here is my parents’ cats making sweet kitten love. Yes they are both boys.