Managing Common Feline Problems at Home

Many common feline problems do not warrant a trip to the veterinarian. Although a visit to the vet's office is necessary for serious issues and regular check ups, it can be a stressful place for pets and can make a stressful situation worse. Minor feline health issues can be treated at home where cats are more comfortable. It is important however, to be able to tell the difference between an issue suitable for home remedy and a problem best left to veterinary professionals.

Fleas Often Reside in Cat Fur

An infestation of fleas is likely the most common problem cats and their owners experience. Fleas can multiply quickly and make their homes in the fur of your cat and can also reside in carpeting and bedding inside the house. Fleas are most often picked up by cats that go outdoors but may also attach themselves to human clothing and enter homes with inside-only cats.

When it comes to flea control, most vets recommend a monthly, spot-on, liquid treatment such as Frontline or Advantage. These products stop the development of eggs and larva and are also effective on adult fleas. Liquid treatments can be more expensive but they work very quickly and more thoroughly than flea collars or flea baths.

Minor Injuries: Cuts and Broken Nails

Minor injuries such as cuts or a broken nail can also be treated at home. It is important to clean the injured area with water diluted hydrogen peroxide to avoid infection. Some cats can be hard to restrain and may require a trip to the vet if you cannot effectively clean the wound. Minor cuts or broken nails do not require a bandage so long as the bleeding stops quickly and you can continue to keep the area clean.

Cats should be kept indoors while the area heals and a cone shaped collar or "E" collar may be necessary if your cat will not leave the wound alone. These collars can be purchased at large pet supply stores. Continue to monitor the injury and make sure it begins to heal. Increased inflammation, continuous bleeding, or a fowl smell are signs an infection may be developing, and a veterinary visit is recommended.

Upper Respiratory Infection

Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), is fairly common among cats in animal shelters, boarding facilities and other places inhabited by a large number of cats. URI is a highly contagious, airborne virus so it is very important to separate your sick cat from other cats in the house. URI symptoms include sneezing, lack of appetite, runny nose and watery eyes. In adult cats, this "cat flu" is usually mild but can linger for many days and even flare up on occasion over the course of a few years.

Vaccinations are available and recommended for cats as young as eight weeks. The vaccine will likely help with URI suppression but may not prevent the virus completely. Cats that contract URI and have been previously vaccinated can be monitored closely at home. Make sure your cat continues to eat, drink water, and use the litter box. You should see an improvement within a few days. If your cat's condition worsens or he has not been previously vaccinated, a visit to the vet is recommended.