Feline declawing is an elective procedure where the cat’s third toe bone with the attached claw on each toe is amputated. We once thought this surgery was required for cats to live indoors without destroying the furniture.

Veterinarians have learned many things about normal cat behavior in the past couple of decades that have changed how we think about and care for cats. We have also learned what cats need to live a happy life.

Cat ClawsScratching is normal cat behavior.

It helps to groom the front claws, give the cat a great whole body stretch, and leave important scent markers. These markers are like Tweets – tiny little messages to other cats.

Declawing does not remove the cat’s natural need to scratch. The problem comes when our beloved cat chooses to scratch on furniture, carpets, or parts of the house like door frames.

Here Five Ways You Can Help Make the Veterinary Visit Fear Free for Your Pet from fearfreepets.com and the Earlysville Animal Hospital.

Fear Free Vet Logo1. A Fear Free Veterinary visit starts with the drive to the animal hospital. Ask us how to help your cat see her carrier as a comfortable refuge and help dogs and cats both have a happy experience in the vehicle.

2. Limit food before the appointment unless medically contraindicated. Bringing pets in hungry increases the reward value of food during the visit. We feed pets during veterinary visits to distract them, make them happy and lower their anxiety. We have a variety of tasty treats for your pet. Bring any special treats from home you know your pet loves.

3. Let our receptionists know if there is a better place for you and your pet to wait than our waiting room. Some dogs and cats prefer to wait in the car, exam room or outside.

The Cat Friendly Practice® program is a global initiative designed to elevate care for cats by reducing the stress for the cat, caregiver, and also the entire veterinary team.

AAFP Cat Friendly Practice LogoWe are happy to be a Cat Friendly Practice because we love cats and want to offer them the best veterinary care. We understand how unique cats are and that they have special needs.

We strive to make veterinary visits for your feline as stress-free as possible by:

  • Approaching your pet in ways that reduce anxiety
  • Designating a special place in the waiting room reserved for cats
  • Providing comfortable places for your cat for examination and treatment
  • Examining your cat in a way that is the least stressful for them. For some cats, that is your lap or the bottom of their carrier.

Making veterinary visits as stress-free as possible starts with choosing the right carrier and training your cat to think of it as a safe oasis.

The first step is choosing the best carrier.

cat in a pet carrierFor most cats, that is a carrier that is sturdy and made of impact-resistant plastic or fiberglass that will protect your cat. Your cat also needs good ventilation, so the carrier needs windows or holes. Your cat also wants the privacy that solid sides provide. Many cats like to have their carrier covered with a large towel.

We like carriers that have both a top and front opening. It is really hard to get a reluctant cat into the front opening of many carriers. How stressful for the cat to be shoved into that small opening! Wrapping the same cat in a towel and placing your cat in the carrier through the top opening will likely be easy and stress-free for the cat.

We also like carriers where the top half can be removed easily. Many cats prefer having their examination done in the carrier bottom. We like anything that keeps your cat happy!

Everyone who loves cats knows how unique they are. To keep them healthy, caretakers need to address their special needs.

cat-woo-in-cat-treeWhen cats are stressed they can become ill and may vomit, house soil, or not eat. The most common cat bladder disease is caused by stress. Cats are stressed when we don’t meet their basic needs.

Although cats are social animals, they are solitary hunters. They get stressed when they have to share resources. This includes food, water, litter pans, scratching posts and places to hide and sleep. This becomes very important when we have more than one cat in a household.

Everyone likes a clean rest room, including your cat! That means having at least one litter pan per cat. Be sure to scoop or clean at least once a day. We recommend doing it in the morning, when you get home from work, and one more time before bed.

Many pets are truly terrified of thunderstorms. There are some steps pet owners can take to help their furry friends cope with storms. Finding what works best for your pet may take some trial and error. We can help make a plan for your pet – here are the basic steps we use.

  1. dog NikkiFind a spot in your house for your pet to stay during the storm that ideally has no windows – like a closet or bathroom. It is great if your pet has chosen their own safe place. Be sure your pet has access to the safe place even if you are not home.

  2. Turn on the radio or TV to help mask the storm noise. There is special music called Through a Dog’s Ear and Through a Cat’s Ear designed to calm pets that is available online as a download or CD.

  3. Sit calmly with your pet and let him know you aren’t afraid of the storm – anxiety is contagious!

Did you know that up to 60% of American cats are overweight? This is amazing because many cats only get the food and exercise their owner’s provide. How can 60% of pet owners get feeding cats wrong?

cat Woo with his food toyMany of us really overestimate how much a cat needs to eat in a day. The average adult cat only needs between 230 and 250 calories. This is a small can of Fancy Feast plus ¼ cup of some grain-free dry cat foods fed in multiple small meals a day. Compare this to filling a bowl with an unlimited supply of dry cat food and letting your cat eat as much as he wants. If he eats a cup of high-calorie dry cat food per day, that alone can be 600 calories - over twice what he should eat!

Calorie content varies widely from one food to another. Your Earlysville Animal Hospital veterinarian can help you figure out how much your cat needs to eat per day.