Veterinarians Answer Questions From Cats

Trish Consunji: 916-649-0599 (California Veterinary Medical Association)


National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day Gets Response from California Veterinarians

Sacramento, CA – Cat owners often notice mysterious, quizzical and sometimes disdainful expressions given to them by their cats. Sometimes they are verbal about their wants and needs, but not in a language understood by the human species.

Cats are intelligent animals and they may be questioning the choices their owners make for them and the activities forced upon them such as veterinary visits, medicines, food choices, and grooming. They might also wonder why such a big deal is made over such fun activities as jumping up on kitchen counters or having just a taste of the family’s chicken dinner.

In a humorous vein and to look more closely at the questions cats might ask, “National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day” will take place on January 22nd. The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), in taking note of this day, chose ten questions to help cat owners recognize and understand feline health and behavior issues and provided expert answers to common questions cats might ask.

1. My house is so warm, cozy, and safe, do I really need an annual exam?

An annual exam is very important! Generally one year in a cat’s life is comparable to between five and seven in a human life. Think a lot can happen to a person in five years? Well a cat goes through that in one. Cats should be examined on an annual basis to look for problems that may have developed or just to make sure they are healthy.

2. When and what kind of vaccinations do I need? Do indoor cats need vaccinations?

The vaccinations you need depend on exposure and your veterinarian’s recommendations. Kittens need a series of vaccinations between the ages of 8 weeks and 16 weeks. Historically, vaccinations have been given annually, though some veterinarians recommend an alternate schedule depending on the individual cat. There is a slight risk of injection-induced sarcomas, but it is rare and should be discussed with a veterinarian.

3. Should cats be spayed or neutered and at what age?

Cats should absolutely be spayed or neutered. Altered cats make much better pets and stay healthier. Veterinarians usually recommend neutering cats between the ages of 2.5 months and 6 months. Check with your veterinarian for a recommendation.

4. What about heartworms, fleas, and ticks? Can anything protect me from these pests?

Unfortunately, cats are susceptible to heartworms, fleas, and ticks. Medications are available to protect cats from them all, as well as internal parasites. Your veterinarian can make recommendations as to which products will be most effective.

5. Can I take human medicines like aspirin or other anti-fever medicine, Imodium AD or other over-the-counter medicine designed for humans?

No! If your human offers you his human medicine, turn up your nose and walk away. Animals should never be given human medications unless they are prescribed by a veterinarian. Cats are particularly sensitive to human medications, which can cause illness or death.

6. How does my human choose the right diet for me? What if I become overweight?

There are a lot of good diets on the market, but you get what you pay for. Cat owners should stay away from brands without recognizable names. A variety of diets are available for cats’ different life stages and medical conditions, including diets to help control weight in cats that like to eat too much. Restricting meals and feeding special low-calorie diets can help cut pounds on fat cats.

7. Should my fur be brushed and do I really need to take baths?

It’s not critical to brush short-haired cats, but long-haired cats need frequent brushing to prevent mats that can become severe. You’ll be happy to know that cats don’t usually require baths—you keep yourselves pretty clean on your own!

8. Are hairballs a common malady? What can my human do to prevent them?

Hairballs can be common, especially in long-haired cats. Frequent brushing and increased fiber in the diet can help. There are hairball prevention diets commercially available.

9. My human always complains that I have bad breath. I think it smells great!

Bad breath is frequently an indication of gingivitis, a common problem in cats because you don’t brush or floss regularly. Left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease, which can result in painful abscesses and loss of teeth. Cats should have their teeth examined at the annual examination and cleaned in the early stages of gingivitis to prevent dental disease.

10. I love it inside, but sometimes I want to go out and roam around. Is that OK?

The great outdoors has its attractions, but inside is best. Indoor cats have been shown to live longer and have fewer diseases and injuries. A window to look out from can give cats the best of both worlds.

The CVMA reminds owners of all pets to read about the proper care and nutrition of their animals and discuss concerns and questions with their veterinarians. For more information about caring for pets and information about finding a local veterinarian, visit the CVMA Web site at

© 2020 California Veterinary Medical Association

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