You can also check out what Dr. Plotnick has to share about cats on his blog, Cat Man Do.
Petside: How can I tell if my cat has a hairball? Dr. Plotnick: Signs include constipation, frequent dry coughing or hacking, loss of appetite, loss of energy, constipation and depression. If you notice any of these symptoms and think your cat may have a hairball in its digestive system, it's best to consult with your veterinarian.
Petside: How many hairballs are too many, when should I become concerned? Dr. Plotnick: If a cat vomits a hairball more than once every five or six weeks, I think it is too much. If that is the case, you should take your cat to the veterinarian to discuss the different treatment options.
Petside: Can hairballs lead to any other serious medical conditions? Dr. Plotnick: Hairballs become dangerous if they get too large or become stuck in a cat's intestine. Stuck or impacted hairballs are a serious problem and sometimes require surgical removal. In lesser cases, they can cause painful constipation.
Petside: Will shaving my cat during heavy shedding season prevent hairballs? Dr. Plotnick: Shaving your cat could cut down on hairballs, but it's actually not a good idea for your cat's overall health. A cat's coat helps regulate its body temperature and shaving it could cause chills at night and expose the skin to sun burns - especially if the cat tends to venture outside. A good way to get rid of all that excess fur, as opposed to shaving, is through proactive grooming. A product like the FURminator deLuxe deShedding Tool helps remove loose, dead undercoat and can reduce shedding by 90 percent - that's less hair ingested, as well as less hair on your clothes and furniture.
Petside: My cat hates being brushed. How do I get her to stay still? Dr. Plotnick: Try to associate grooming with something pleasurable, like treats or a favorite toy. Combining grooming with a reward activity can make at challenging home grooming less of a battle.
Petside: How do I keep my cat entertained during the day while I'm at work? Dr. Plotnick: Cats sleep through most of the day, but if you'd like to provide your cat with some activity, consider something simple like a cardboard box or spring for a bit fancier cat toy at your local pet store. Scratching, crawling, climbing and jumping will entertain your cat while you're away. Also, open the blinds during the day so your cat can see out the window.
Petside: What can I do to ease my cats' tension when I bring them to the vet? Dr. Plotnick: Feel free to call your vet an hour or so before your appointment to ask if they are running ahead or behind schedule in order to help avoid any extended wait times. Transporting your cat via carrier can be also helpful; just make sure your cat doesn't associate the carrier only with going to the vet. Use the cat carrier for fun trips too... not that the vet isn't fun. Finally, bring along a few toys or treats for fun and as a general distraction.
Petside: My cat is strictly an indoor cat. What vaccinations does she need? Dr. Plotnick: Vaccines have been an integral part of preventive pet health care programs for decades. All healthy kittens and cats should be vaccinated for life threatening diseases like panleukopenia, herpesvirus, calicivirus (FVRCP), and rabies. Those are considered the "core" vaccines - ones that every cat should receive.
Optional or "non-core" vaccines available for cats include Chlamydophila felis (a respiratory pathogen, formerly called Chlamydia), the feline leukemia virus (FeLV), the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), the feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) virus, Bordetella (another respiratory pathogen), Giardia (an intestinal protozoan), and ringworm (a skin fungus).
Petside: A feral cat had kittens in my yard. What should I do? Dr. Plotnick: I recommend contacting your local rescue group or Humane Society and work with them to safely catch these kittens so that they can be tamed and properly cared for.
Petside: What is the most common condition cats have? How is it treated? Dr. Plotnick: Common conditions I see in my practice include heartworm disease, severe gingivitis, obesity, diabetes and parasites. Most of these can be controlled by taking proper preventative steps like monthly flea and tick treatments, healthy diet and adequate exercise in order to keep off extra pounds, dental treats and brushing teeth, etc. Treatments vary per the individual pet; it's always best to consult with your veterinarian on preventative treatments as well as any health concerns.
Petside: Are there signs to tell me how my cat is feeling? Dr. Plotnick: Cats in general are fairly secretive when it comes to displaying signs of illness, however, decreased appetite, increased thirst, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss are examples of clinical signs that may indicate your cat is sick.
Petside: What is the most common misconception about cats? Dr. Plotnick: It is a misconception that cats are entirely self-sufficient and need little or no veterinary care. Cats are, by nature, not very forthcoming in regards to letting us know that they don't feel well. They need regular veterinary exams to ensure that they are staying healthy.
Petside: How many cats do you have? Dr. Plotnick: Currently, I have two cats, Crispy and Mittens. I adopted Crispy from the ASPCA six years ago while I was employed there. She had come into the hospital as one of our cruelty cases. About a year and a half ago, I adopted a young kitten with huge, freaky front feet that arrived at our hospital - now known as Mittens.
Petside: What are some easy ways to acclimate your new cat to her home? Other pets? Dr. Plotnick: Slowly. Let them acclimate to one another and never force the interaction. Smell is a large part of the equation. Let the new cat roam around the house to smell things out while the other cat is in a crate or separate room. Then switch roles. Let the resident cat roam around the house and smell the new cat's scent. Try this a few times over the first few days. This is also a good practice for introducing a new cat to the family dog.
Also, keep the two cats' food bowls separate at first then move the bowls closer as comfort and familiarity grow. Eating together helps the cats associate each other with a good experience, such as dinnertime.
Petside: What made you choose to become a cat only veterinarian? Dr. Plotnick: I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a veterinarian. My childhood cat once swallowed a sewing needle with thread. When the vet put the X-ray on the viewer and I saw the needle, I knew at that moment that this is what I want to do. I've always had a kinship with cats and I love that I get to work with them every day.