Three recommendations directly relate to ensuring the health and safety of your newest family member.
Are you planning to bring home a bundle of joy during National Adopt-A-Cat Month?
Following the explosion in the kitten population that occurs each spring, June is when the American Humane Association and other animal organizations jointly encourage adoption of a cat (or two!) from local shelters.
The Adopt-a-Cat website offers advice for people considering kitty adoption. Three recommendations directly relate to ensuring the health and safety of your newest family member.
“Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption.”
According to data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, pet owners are far more likely to provide routine veterinary care for their dogs than for their cats. But it is just important to the long-term health of cats to have regular checkups. Selecting a veterinarian ahead of time provides the opportunity to ask friends for their recommendations and to visit several clinics to see if it is a good fit.
Keep the phone numbers of your veterinarian and a nearby 24-hour emergency clinic in a prominent place. The “Good Human” emergency pre-registration program at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital eliminates much of the paperwork involved in an emergency visit and sends participants a key tag so to the contact information is handy. Pre-registration also saves owners the new patient registration fee. Visit uianimaler.com to learn about this free program.
“Cat-proof your home.”
Be aware of things that could be toxic, both to prevent poisonings and to recognize what could be the cause of a sudden illness. Acetaminophen or other human medicines and plants such as lilies are among the many household items that can be toxic.
Remove potential choking hazards, whenever possible. If you suspect your pet is choking on something, Dr. Maureen McMichael, a specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, says you can try to pull it out if the object is not far down the pet’s throat. One exception to that is if your pet has swallowed string; in that case, seek veterinary care before acting. Pulling on the string could cause the taut string to rupture an intestinal wall.
“Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan.”
There are window decals available that will alert firefighters that pets are in the household, including the number of each species.
If you must evacuate your home because of a natural disaster, you may be able to place your cats in a carrier with food, water, and proper identification and bring them with you to the evacuation shelter. However, it is wise to have a arranged for family or friends who live beyond the path of danger to shelter your pets. Microchipping can be a lifesaver if your pet is separated from you during a natural disaster.
Celebrate Adopt-a-Cat month by bringing a new cat into your home, and take advantage of the many resources available to help you prepare for new joys and responsibilities.
An archive of Pet Columns from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is available online at http://vetmed.illinois.edu/petcolumns/. Requests for reprints of this article may be directed to Chris Beuoy.
By Christine Beuoy