These are very similar to human colds. The cat is often congested and cannot smell its food. Tempting your pet cat with smelly canned cat food, Hills A/D food (purchased at a veterinarian’s office), baby food (no onions in ingredients, please), chicken broth, or even tuna in water (last resort as too much can cause diarrhea) will often get them eating again. You may have to coax them to eat by using your fingers, and even smearing it on their lips or nose. If your pet cat has not eaten for more than two days, force-feeding with a syringe may be necessary. If you don’t know how to do this, we can describe this or show you how. Nutracal is a calorie and nutrient-packed supplement that even sick cats will often accept when not otherwise eating. This can be picked up at the rescue. Steam from a vaporizer or hot shower often helps clear the nasal passages. Keep the nose and eyes clear of discharge with warm, damp cotton balls. A cat that doesn’t feel well appreciates some extra petting and quiet time in your lap. If you can coax your pet cat to eat, and its drinking water, the infection will usually run its course, and no additional treatment is necessary.
Dehydration is a serious concern.
Watch carefully to see if your pet cat is drinking water. You may have to carefully watch the level of the water bowl, and keep track of litter box activity. You can check for dehydration by pulling the skin up just a little lower than the back of the neck. It should be taut and snap back down. If it stands up or takes some time to go back down, the cat may be dehydrated. A lethargic cat is often dehydrated. If your cat is dehydrated, subcutaneous fluids may be necessary. This is a good skill to learn and you can be buddied up with an experienced pet parent who can teach you. There are several pet parents experienced with this and willing to make home visits to hydrate your cat. This may help a cat feel better sooner and will save money by not having to go to a vet.
Please contact us right away if you think your cat is dehydrated. We may arrange a home visit, direct you to the rescue for fluids, or as a last resort, to one of the local veterinarians that bill the rescue directly. If your pet cat is extremely lethargic, it may be dehydrated, have a fever (over 103 degrees F, rectally, constitutes a fever), and/or a bacterial infection, and we would probably direct you to veterinary care. If nasal discharge is thick and yellowish-green (vs. clear and watery), this may be an indication that a bacterial infection has set in, and antibiotics may be necessary. In this case, we will direct you to take your pet cat to the vet.
Other things to watch for that may require additional care or a vet visit:
• Loose stool or diarrhea – usually caused by parasites that may or may not be visible in feces. Depending
upon the parasite, this can be treated with wormer picked up at the rescue or a vet visit.
• Continual vomiting or occasional vomiting that lasts more than a day or two.
• Extreme lethargy for more than 2-3 days.
• Eyes that are red and inflamed or have an extreme amount of discharge and swelling, vs. small amounts of
discharge, usually in both eyes that is common with a URI. This can often be treated with eye ointment picked up at the rescue, but may need a vet visit if the infection doesn’t respond within a couple of days.
• Any crumbly wax-like substance in the ears (possible ear mites). Ear mite medicine can be picked up at the rescue.
• Fleas or flea dirt (black pepper-like substance in the fur). Advantage is usually applied if fleas are noticed at the rescue. If you see flea dirt, we will find out if Advantage was already applied. One application lasts 30 days. If it hasn’t or if you find live fleas, please bring your pet cat to the rescue for Advantage to be applied.
Handling an injured animal
Injuries and illness are traumatic experiences for both peters and animals. Always remember that even the gentlest animal, when injured, will bite. Take precautions to prevent this. Use the procedures that follow.
Use this type of restraint for cats.
1. Place a blanket over the animal.
2. Approach the animal from behind and place your hands over the shoulder and under the neck.
3. When you pick up the animal, support the body between your arms.
Transporting injured animals
For severely injured animals, a stretcher is preferred. A stretcher can be improvised out of any rigid material, even heavy cardboard. If rigid material is not available a stretcher-sling can be made with a blanket or sheet. If injuries are not severe cats may be wrapped in a blanket. If the cat is afraid, cover his/her eyes.
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