Four Things to Watch for Your Cat’s Dental Health

Veterinarian brushing cat's teeth with toothbrush in animal clinic

Your feline friend’s stinky breath may be the running joke in your family, but it could be a sign of a deeper issue. It’s time to get serious about your pet’s dental health because, just like you, cats require regular dental exams and cleanings. Left unchecked, cats can develop a dental disease or even suffer from mouth pain that they’re unable to communicate to you. The first step is to schedule an appointment with your vet for a dental checkup, but there are things you can do along the way to monitor your pet’s dental health.

Between dental check up visits to the vet, pay special attention to these four things:

  • Breath – Chances are your cat’s breath won’t be minty fresh but it shouldn’t be foul either. “If your kitty’s mouth has an abnormally strong odor, he may have digestive problems or a gum condition such as gingivitis, and should be examined by a vet.” (Pets.WebMD.com)
  • Gums – The appearance of red, inflamed gums is a sign that it’s time to call the vet. Inflammation can be an indicator of infections or ailments even beyond those related to your pet’s dental health, such as kidney disease. Advancing stages of gum disease can lead to tooth loss, pain, or being unable to eat. When you check your cat’s gums, they should appear firm and pink.
  • Teeth – Monitor your cat’s teeth for any changes. His teeth should be white, without signs of browning or tartar buildup. Also, take this opportunity to check for any broken or loose teeth. If your dentist recommends beginning an oral hygiene routine for your cat, remember to ease into it. “Unlike dogs, cats are very individualistic in their acceptance of home oral hygiene. Try several options (brushing, finger-brushing, dental rinses or gels, dental diets) to find those techniques and products that your cat best tolerates. Some cats are very particular about new flavors. Patience and a gentle approach will yield the best results.” (AVDC.org)
  • Behavioral Changes – Unfortunately, our pets can’t communicate with us directly if something is wrong so it’s up to use to pay attention to what their behavior is telling us. Sudden changes in your cat’s eating habits, pawing at the mouth, or excessive drooling are all signs that your cat may be experiencing some pain.

    Dental health is a major factor in the overall quality of life for your cat. Pain or discomfort in the mouth is not only unpleasant, it can lead to your furry friend avoiding eating which, in turn, leads to additional complications. A little monitoring and maintenance can go a long way in preventing more serious developments down the road. At your next dental checkup, talk to your vet about what you can do to improve or maintain your cat’s pearly whites at home.







    Dos and Don’ts of Feline Friendly Thanksgivings

    Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to gather around a festive meal and share their gratitude. There may be one family member, you haven’t thought to invite to the festivities! If you’re like most people, you consider your cat to be part of the family. Show your gratitude for your feline friend with a special Thanksgiving meal just for them.
    There seems to be no shortage of foods, spices, and herbs that are toxic to cats, but rarely do you see cat-friendly holiday foods. If you’re not familiar with the foods that cats should avoid, we’ve included some sources below.
    Invite your family cat to a special, cat-friendly Thanksgiving dinner with these helpful Dos and Don’ts:
    Do: Check the ingredients. Popular additions like garlic, onions, and spices can be toxic to cats. Don’t: Give your cat foods with excess fat like butter, bacon, and fatty cuts of meat.
    Do: Give your cat plain turkey or other plain lean cuts of meat.
    Don’t: Serve up hefty portions to your pet or encourage guests to give treats.
    Do: Check any meat for bones and remove the skin before you treat your pet.
    Don’t: Treat your cat to pumpkin pie from the dessert
    Do: Surprise your cat with plain canned pumpkin. As a bonus, it can also aids digestion.
    Don’t: Give your pets sugar free desserts. These items often have xylitol which is toxic to pets.
    Do: Make plain mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes for your cat.
    Don’t: Leave flowers unattended. Many flowers are toxic to cats.
    Keep your feline friend happy and healthy while they indulge in Thanksgiving Day treats with the rest of the family. If you believe that your cat has ingested a bone or something toxic, please reach out to your vet or emergency vet as soon as possible.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Fancy Paws Cat Clinic Staff

    Tips for Pets: Keep Your Cat Safe this Halloween

    Halloween is a festive time for many of us. There are costumed guests and candy galore! Unfortunately, the same things that make this holiday so much fun can be things that present a danger to your pet. But with a little precaution and a few tweaks, you can keep your furry friends safe and sound and keep the festive day a joyous occasion.

    halloween cat img


    Mind the Door
    Throughout the day and night, you’re sure to have many trick-or-treaters coming to your door. The constant opening and closing of the door gives your cat plenty of opportunity to make a great escape! Keep your cat away from the door so he can avoid temptation. Even if your cat is an indoor cat, make sure he’s wearing a collar and ID tag just in case he breaks free.

    No Treats for Tricks
    The biggest appeal of Halloween can also be its biggest drawback when it comes to keeping your kitties safe. Not only does the candy itself pose a threat, but candy wrappers can also be dangerous if ingested. Keep your candy bowl covered and make sure candy wrappers go straight into the bin to discourage cats from ingesting their new “toys”.

    Mind the Decor
    Decorating is part of the fun, but a curious cat may get tangled in your Halloween decor or even ingest tassels, ribbons, and strings. If you think your cat may have ingested any of your decorations it’s important to get in touch with your vet or emergency vet immediately. Depending on your level of enthusiasm in Halloween decorations, you may also have extra electronics and wires hanging around. It’s best to keep these out of reach, especially if your cat is prone to scratching and nibbling.

    Costumes for Cats?
    Dressing your cat up for the festivities may seem like a good idea, but the simple truth is – your cat may just not like it. If your cat is hesitant to don that witch’s hat, it might be best to let him be. Many cats are intimidated or stressed by clothing and accessories. If your cat is skittish around new people or noises (ie. constant doorbell rings) he’ll already be a bit nervous. Adding strange clothing to the mix may not be the best idea.

    There’s room for joy for everyone in the family on Halloween! Keep this day of tricks and treats fun for all with these tips to keep your pets safe and sound.


    It Takes a Village: Donating to a Shelter

    cat relax


    Visiting your local animal shelter to adopt a new cat is a very joyful experience, but for many animal lovers, it can be difficult to not to leave with every pet you see. While you can’t bring every kitten home with you, you can bring the comforts of home to them! Most, if not all, animal shelters and humane societies rely on monetary, material, and time donations to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly. Before you run out to get a cart full of goodies there are a few things to keep in mind. Many shelters have rules or strong preferences about what can or cannot be accepted as a donation. You can avoid having donations refused by calling ahead or checking the shelter’s website to view their wish list. If your local shelter has set up an Amazon Wish List, you don’t even need to leave your home to donate their most needed items.


    For many shelters, food tops the donation wish list. Canned cat food, dry cat food, kitten food, and kitten formula are all welcome donations. Some shelters ask that only certain brands of food be donated. Though it may sound strange that they may refuse a food donation, sudden changes in diet can cause digestive troubles for cats. It’s also important to keep in mind that shelters are unable to accept food donations that are open or expired. If you’d like to donate an unopened bag of food that isn’t a brand your local shelter accepts, they may have a rescue partner or a family in-need program that will accept it.


    Bring the comforts of a loving home to the shelter with goodies to keep cats comfortable and happy. Shelters love donations of blankets, towels, scratching posts and cardboard scratching boards, cat beds, carriers, catnip, and cat toys. Your donated items should be clean and in good condition. Though shelter staff members and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure the comfort and happiness of all the animals, some cats may not adjust as well as others. Having a soft, cozy space and a fun toy can do wonders to cheer up shelter animals. As always, please check with the shelter to see what items they need the most.


    Beyond traditional volunteering and donations, you can donate your services to the shelter. Love taking photos or creating videos? Perhaps your local shelter or humane society would be interested in having you take portraits or videos of pets to be featured on their website. Are you a natural-born rallier? Use your skills of persuasion to help your shelter raise funds. There’s no end to the joy and usefulness that your natural skills can bring with a little creativity.


    A huge part of keeping animals happy is keeping them clean and well-groomed. Shelters can always use unscented clumping and non-clumping cat litter, litter boxes, metal flea combs, and grooming supplies like electric clippers. Of course, needs vary from shelter to shelter so please check your local shelter’s wish list. You can help your fluffy friends stay picture perfect and ready for adoption day.

    There are so many ways to contribute to the happiness and comfort of shelter animals: from food and photography services to grooming supplies and kitty litter. Even if you don’t have spare cash to donate material goods, shelters and humane societies are always looking for dedicated animal lovers that can spare some time. Without your love, donations, and volunteering shelters would have a difficult time caring for all of the animals that walk through their doors. It really does take a village.








    New Rules and Regulations for Prescriptions



    Virginia has updated their regulations in regards to controlled medication and opioid prescriptions.  If your pet is taking one of the following medications: Tramadol, Lomotil or Buprenex, please note the following changes in procedure.

    • Patients who are prescribed a controlled drug will require an exam every 6 months.
    • For acute pain (post-surgical or trauma) prescription cannot exceed 7 days. Additional medication can be prescribed but only after a follow-up examination.
    • For chronic conditions opioids may be prescribed beyond 14 days (excluding Buprenex) but cannot exceed a 30 day supply and the patient must be re-examined every 6 months. Buprenex can only be prescribed for up to 7 days without a follow-up examination.
    • Proper disposal of controlled drugs:  Improper disposal of prescribed opioids and other medications is harmful to humans and animals. To learn more about safe disposal of medications, visit http://www.VaAware.com.
    • We recommend controlled drugs be stored securely in a locked cabinet or container to help avoid accidental exposure or unauthorized use.

    Did you know that the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends vet visits every 6 months for your senior pet? Some medications that help your cat with pain and joint issues occasionally need to be adjusted and recheck appointments are important to ensure your cat is still benefiting from treatment.

    Noticing pain in your senior cat for the first time? Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss ways to help your cat age gracefully and comfortably.

    We thank you for your understanding as we uphold these new Virginia laws. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.


    The Team at Fancy Paws Cat Clinic


    Summertime Frozen Treats for Your Cat to Eat


    As the summer months march on, you may notice that your cat seems to get a little less interested in food. Whet your feline friend’s appetite with a homemade ice cold treat. You can prep these simple catsicles recipes at home in moments, pop them in the freezer overnight, and voila! A tasty way to combat the heat.

    Tuna Pops

    Have a can of tuna on hand? You can turn that odd can of tuna into a gourmet treat with the help of a blender and a little time. Simply place the tuna in the blender along with the water it was packed in and blend. You can use an ice cube tray or even dixie cups to hold the mixture.

    Cat-Friendly Ice Cream

    Feeling a little more ambitious? Treat your kitty to this feline-friendly ice cream recipe. With the milk and sugar, traditional ice cream isn’t good for kitties. This recipe uses Cat-sure, a specially formulated milk for adult cats. If your cat has a sensitive tummy and you have any questions about what kind of milk product you can use, ask your vet for recommendations at the next visit. Remember making ice cream in a Ziploc bag as a child? It’s the same fun, easy process.


    Don’t discount simplicity when making your cat a cool treat. Create a gourmet shaved ice treat by tossing in a bit of canned tuna, salmon, or wet cat food. Similarly, you can always take a can of your cat’s favorite wet food, slice or dice it up, and put it in the freezer until solid. No matter what summertime catsicle recipe you choose, your cool cat is sure to reward you with a little extra loving.


    Why Your Cat Abandoned the Litter Box and What to Do


    Hopefully, your kitty cat is in tip top health, minds his manners, and does his business where he’s supposed to. But if you’ve noticed your fur baby having accidents more and more frequently the litter box may be the true culprit. It may be tempting to yell or even punish your cat for his faux pas, but this could actually make things worse. Hold off on the offensive maneuvers and dig a little deeper into the true issue.

    There are many issues your cat may not be using his litter box. From fickle location preferences to potentially serious medical issues. If your cat has been consistently eliminating in his litter box but has suddenly begun to leave presents on your bed sheets or carpet, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues. Even medical issues that have resolved could create negative associations, especially if those issues dealt with painful elimination.

    After a thorough checkup and ruling out any potential health issues you can begin to focus on other reasons for elimination outside of the box. The first and easiest thing to address is you, the owner! It should go without saying to keep the litter clean, but if you only clean the litter every other day this might be a sign that you need to move to daily cleanings.

    If you keep the box in tip top shape it’s time to look into behavioral causes of your fickle feline’s potty misadventures. Cats are exceedingly preferential and keeping that in mind could go a long way to solve elimination issues. Make sure your kitty’s litter box isn’t in an area that is closed in or that attracts high traffic. Many cats don’t like attention while relieving themselves and they like to have several possible escape routes. Also, take care the litter box isn’t near his food or water bowl – cats don’t like to eliminate where they eat. Once you address the location issue, make sure there are enough litter boxes in the house. If you have more than one cat or a multi-story house you may need to begin your very own litter box collection.

    If you’ve moved the litter box and added boxes for each floor or cat in the home then your cat may just be plain uncomfortable. Cats enjoy large litter boxes. This means that many cats will be uncomfortable in covered litter boxes. Your cat may also have an aversion to the litter you’re using. Try putting two litter boxes right next to each other with different types of litter to see if he has a preference and if you’re using a scented litter switch to unscented. When filling the box be sure that there’s only an inch or two of litter in the box.

    Stress may be a factor in your cat’s elimination problems. A big move, a new addition to the family, or even high household tensions can lend to your cat’s stress levels. Keep a close eye to see if you can identify your cat’s stressors and eliminate frustrations if possible. Some stressors can’t be removed from the immediate environment so you can consult your vet about using catnip or essential oils and pheromones you can diffuse into the air to relax your kitty’s nerves.

    There are any number of reasons that your cat has stopped using his litter box. As you tackle this issue it’s important to remember that comfort is key so punishments may set back any progress that you make. You don’t have to roll out a red carpet leading to his litter box, but it may not be a bad idea to leave some toys and pleasant things in the general area. Don’t hesitate to call your local vet if you have any additional questions or concerns about sudden changes in elimination habits.







    National Poison Prevention: Cautious Caretakers for Curious Cats

    Flower Cat.png


    March is National Poison Prevention Month. Though much of the attention is on babies and toddlers, a curious cat can be just as much of a challenge. Cats are nefarious for getting themselves into interesting spaces so it is especially important to poison-proof your home to make sure your kitty’s counter surfing doesn’t end tragically.

    Preparation is key to keeping your kitty safe; a little knowledge goes such a long way to keep everyone in the house happy and healthy. Online resources can help identify potentially hazardous plants, foods, and substances around the house. Even the most prepared homes are no match for an insatiably curious kitten, so it’s a good idea to have the number of an emergency vet in your immediate area and the Pet Poison Helpline in an easy to get to place, just in case your emergency is outside office hours.

    Many household wares poisonous to cats are common sense and we keep them tucked away already. Household cleaners and pest killers, medications, and beauty products are typically locked up tight. Other items may not be as well known potential hazards. Lilies, many human foods, and cocoa mulch. Onions and garlic seem like unlikely offenders, but can be very toxic to your pets if ingested.

    Even though medication is something many pet owners keep locked away, it is estimated that the second most popular candidate for cat poison calls is over the counter and prescription medicine. Whether it’s the amusing rattle of the pills inside or simply the dangerous side of curiosity, cats work their ways into pill bottles that may be left on bathroom counters or in purses in reach of pets. Antidepressants, in particular, seem to attract cats and should be kept far away from them. Cats tend to be more sensitive than dogs to many poisons including NSAIDs, it’s important to speak with a veterinarian before you give any pet medicine.

    It’s almost time for warmer weather and if your cat spends any time outside there are all new smells and flavors to investigate. Be mindful of any accessible chemicals in your garage or shed. The sweet taste of antifreeze can be tempting as can rolling around in freshly planted flowers and bushes or cornering a pesky field rat. It’s important to immediately clean any chemical spills around the home to prevent your curious cat from pawing at hazardous liquids. You may not realize that rodents that have been poisoned with certain rodenticides may inadvertently cause poisoning to your hunting cat. Always read the instructions and warning labels of any chemicals that your pet may come into contact with however direct or indirect.

    If you believe that your cat has ingested a poisonous substance, it’s of the utmost importance that you take swift action, especially if you’re not quite sure what the substance is. Easy access to the primary vet, emergency vet, and Pet Poison Hotline phone numbers can make all the difference when moments matter. Poison-proofing your home can dramatically cut down on the chance of any incidents. Knowledge is your first defense in keeping a happy home for you and your pet.




    Fall Kitty Dangers

    Autumn is the height of natural beauty with its fiery foliage and brisk mornings. The changing of the colors is the perfect backdrop for family gatherings, pumpkin picking, and cool weather hikes. Unfortunately this beautiful season can bring some potential dangers for our best friends. From seasonal foods to environmental hazards, we must be vigilant to keep our feline friends safe to make this autumn season fun for all!



    Cooler weather festivities often bring ample opportunity for goodies! It isn’t uncommon for our cooking supplies to be strewn across kitchen counters. Some foods are poisonous to the curious cats that might happen upon them:

    • Chocolate – Keep your gift baskets secure. Many of the goodies inside may be dangerous to your furry friend. Chocolate may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and, in more serious cases, seizures. Be especially wary of dark chocolates as they contain more cocoa than their milk or white chocolate counterparts.


    • Onions – Onion, garlic, and chives. Oh my! These aromatic vegetables are used to flavor just about every savory dish, but leaving them out for your cat to get into may get you in hot water. Toxicity from garlic and onions may cause weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea.


    • Unbaked Bread Dough – If you plan on baking your own bread this fall, be sure to keep the rising dough away from your cat. Dough rises over time so there is significant danger in ingestion because this dough may expand while in your cat’s stomach. If you’ve found that your feline gets into your rising dough call your vet immediately.

    Cute kitten hiding in leaves

    Watching the painted leaves fall is part of the fun and beauty of fall, but they can also hide dangers from you and your kitty cat:

    • Mold – Gathered leaves may be fun to stomp on, but our furry friends are quite a bit lower to the ground and more susceptible to moldy leaves that may be hiding. Keep this in mind for your compost as well! The fallen leaves might cover up your open compost pile causing your curious kitty to paw at the pile and potentially stir up some mold.


    • Mushrooms – Cool, wet weather brings mushrooms to the yard and just like we humans, if a kitty cat gets into these mysterious mushrooms there is a chance of toxicity. It can be difficult to identify mushrooms with certainty, so if you think your cat has ingested any mushrooms it is best to call your vet immediately.


    • Chrysanthemums and Autumn Crocus – These two flowers bloom in the autumn season. Both have been known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, and more severe reactions. Indoor cats that have snuck out and not used to all of the sights maybe even more curious about these colorful flowers.


    Though tenacious, our curious cats can’t always take care of themselves. It’s up to us to keep informed so what we can take care of them every day of the year.