Category Archives: Cats

Why a Heartworm Preventative is Essential for Your Pet

Should I Give My Pet a Heartworm Preventative?

Do you give your dog heartworm preventative?  How about your cat?  Do you want to know why this is important?  Read on!

When we think of “worms,” we mostly think of intestinal worms; we diagnose those by sending a stool sample to the laboratory.  Heartworms are different; they are spread by mosquitos, and the adult heartworms live in the big blood vessels that take blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs to pick up oxygen.  The mosquitos carry the tiny heartworm larvae, called microfilaria, and these enter your dog’s system when he or she is bitten by that mosquito.  In case you are thinking that your dog spends very little time outside, remember that mosquitos come into the house very easily.  That’s how even indoor cats get heartworm disease.

In dogs, if we catch the heartworm disease before the dog has any symptoms, such as coughing or lethargy, we can treat him or her and get rid of the heartworms; this is a 4-month process, and it costs more than a 10-year supply of heartworm preventative!  In cats, there is no successful treatment, and cats are more likely to die of heartworm than dogs are.

For dogs, there are 3 ways to prevent heartworm disease:  most people give a monthly chewable; many people get the 6-month injection (brand name ProHeart), and some people use the monthly topical (brand name Revolution).  We also recommend an annual blood test; if your dog were to get heartworm disease, and you have been getting annual heartworm tests and have been purchasing 12 months of heartworm preventative every year, the companies that make the preventatives have guarantees that state that they will pay for the cost of the treatment needed to cure your dog.

For cats, Revolution is the treatment of choice; it also prevents fleas, and it’s easier for many cats than a pill would be, even a chewable one.

If you’re pet hasn’t had or needs a heartworm or other pet parasite preventative, schedule an appointment online or call us at 215-333-8888.

Litter Box Hygiene

By Dr. Nina Beyer

Why Won’t My Cat Use the Litter Box?

We’ve all been there. Almost all cat owners consider litter boxes to be essential. Very few of us, these days, think it’s safe for our cats to go outdoors to eliminate, in order not to have a litter box in the house. And as soon as something goes wrong, like the cat urinating or defecating outside the box, we tend to blame the cat…but usually, it’s because the poor cat is finding the litter box to be a problem. How can we make the litter box NOT a problem for our cats, so they’ll use it happily?

Japanese_litter_box_in_useFirst of all, the great folks at the Cornell Feline Health Center have studied cats’ litter preferences for years. They’ve found that most cats prefer unscented litter. Cats also prefer clumping litter, and they prefer the finest texture possible (sand-like). If you are using scented, coarse-textured, or other types of litter, try putting unscented, clumping, fine-textured litter in one of your boxes, and see how your cat(s) like it.

Second, we know that cats don’t always want to share boxes. The Cornell researchers recommend that you have at least one more litter box than you have cats (three cats? Four litter boxes!). From a cat’s point of view, boxes that are in the same room might as well be the same box; if you put all four boxes in the basement, the three cats feel like they’re all sharing one box. Spread those boxes around the house! Cats like some privacy, but they also like easy access to the bathroom (just like we do!).

Third, most of us don’t recognize the role that stress plays in our cats. Often, cats that are eliminating outside the box are experiencing stress. Cats can be stressed by living with other cats (our living spaces are smaller than cats prefer for their home ranges), by the presence of dogs or toddlers, by seeing other cats through the window, by their early life experiences before you adopted them, and especially by a genetic predisposition to higher stress levels (brain biochemistry differences). If you are experiencing urine or stools outside the litter box, please talk to your cat’s doctor for help! Most cats can be helped significantly!

Happy Catember!!

In case you didn’t know, September is Happy Cat Month. This was created by the CATalyst Council to improve cat wellness by focusing on happiness. Studies have been shown that a happy cat is a healthier cat. Providing opportunities for your cat to act on these feline instincts is a core component of an enriching environment.

Below is a list of the top 10 ways owners can keep their cats happy:

10 Ways to Make a Cat Happy

  1. Provide toys. One of the easiest ways to make a cat happy is with a new toy. Not all toys have to be store bought. Paper sacks, wadded up paper and empty boxes will entertain cats for hours.
  2. Train your cat together. Cats are smart as well as food oriented and can be trained to do fun tricks–the mental and physical stimulation is great for felines. Training your cat can strengthen the bond between you and your feline buddy.
  3. Make your cat work for food. Feline obesity is a huge problem in this country and one way to combat it is to make cats work for their food. Food toys are available to channel a cat’s natural hunting instincts. The toy releases kibble in small amounts as the cat play with it. Another option is to hide a cat’s food in different places so that they have to find it.
  4. Acclimate your cat to the carrier. Many cat owners find that the worst part about taking their cat anywhere is getting it into the carrier. The time to work with your cat on making their carrier seem like a safe, secure and inviting place to be is prior to veterinary visits or family vacations – not when you’re ready to get into the car.
  5. Visit the veterinarian. Healthy cats are happy cats. Many veterinary practices are cat-friendly or have doctors who specialize in cats. Yearly wellness visits can help catch medical problems early.
  6. Microchip your cat. In addition to a collar and identification tag, microchipping provides permanent identification in case your cat becomes lost.
  7. Go outside (appropriately). Yes! There are ways owners can safely take their cats outside to allow them to broaden their horizons. Cats can be walked on a leash with a harness or confined in a special outdoor area—always under supervision, of course—so they can periodically and safely experience the world outside their window.
  8. Provide proper scratching posts. Scratching is an important aspect of feline behavior. Cats should have places they are allowed to stretch and care for their claws. Providing a long and sturdy scratching post in a vertical, horizontal or angled position is a good way to keep your cat happy.
  9. Provide preventive medications. No one likes fleas, ticks, mites or heartworms, especially your cat. Even if your cat is kept strictly indoors, they can still be attacked by these little creepy creatures. A parasite-free cat is a happy cat and preventive care will keep your family healthier, too.
  10. Think about getting another cat. Cats are social animals, so you might want to consider visiting the shelter and adopting a best buddy for your current kitty. Cats love to play, and a playmate will make them happy—provided they are properly introduced and have the right places to eat, hide, play and go the bathroom.


In case you didn’t mark your calendar, August 22nd is Take Your Cat to the Vet Day and it is a great time to remind everyone about the importance of preventive care. You wouldn’t dream of skipping your kids’ doctor appointments, so why should your cat’s veterinary check-ups be any different?

The fact is cats get sick too! While they are masters at hiding illness, they also suffer from many of the same disease as their canine and human counterparts.

Here are the top 5 reasons routine vet visits are a vital part for your cat to live a long, healthy life. You might not know that:

5 Reasons for Cat Checkups

1. Cats age more rapidly than humans. A cat reaches the approximate human age of 15 shutterstock_120813622during its first year, and then 24 at age 2. Each year thereafter, they age approximately four “cat years” for every calendar year. So your 8-year-old cat would be 48 in human years. Veterinary care is crucial because a lot can happen in four “cat years,” which is why yearly visits are so important.


2. Cats are masters at hiding illness. Cat’s natural behaviors make them excellent at hiding how they feel when they are sick or in pain. Your cat could be developing a health condition long before you notice anything is wrong. Veterinarians are trained to spot changes or abnormalities that could be overlooked and detect many problems before they advance or become more difficult to treat.


3. Over 50% of cats are overweight or obese. Your veterinarian will check your cat’s weight at every visit and provide nutritional and enrichment recommendations to help keep your cat at an ideal weight. Just a few extra pounds can put cats at risk for diabetes; heart, respiratory, and kidney disease; and more.


4. Preventive care is better than reactive care. Information discussed, along with a thorough physical examination, provides you and your veterinarian with a plan to help your cat remain healthy. Regular exams can help avoid medical emergencies since veterinarians can often detect conditions or diseases that may affect your cat’s health long before they become significant, painful, or more costly to treat.


5. Kittens have 26 teeth, while adult cats have 30. That equates to a lot of dental care! Periodontal disease is considered the most prevalent disease in cats three years of age and older. Often there are no obvious signs of dental disease. Most cats with dental disease still eat without a noticeable change in appetite! Discuss your cat’s teeth at their routine preventive care veterinary visit.