Cats require certain, species-specific care. People who don’t have experience owning cats often make mistakes when trying to care for them. One of the most common mistakes is trying to treat cats like they’re small dogs. Cats are not small dogs, though, and this misconception can mean they get the wrong care or can keep them from getting important care. 

Nutritional Needs

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they have to have meat in order to survive. Their systems cannot get the proper nutrients unless they eat animal flesh. Dogs, on the other hand, only need about 10 percent of their diet to consist of protein. Because of this, the canine diet is much more flexible than the feline one. Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your cats to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need to live the healthiest lives.

Medications and Toxins

Certain medications that are safe for dogs can be toxic for cats. Even if a medication is safe for both species, the quantity can be different. Also, there are foods and plants that are toxic to cats that are perfectly safe for dogs. Be familiar with what is toxic for cats and make sure medication is safe for your cat.

Born to Hunt

Cats are hardwired to be hunters in the wild. With so many predators of their own, they have to hide signs of weakness. This means they do not show signs of illness, and in fact, even try to mask it. Dogs are much more likely to try to show their human when something is wrong. Because of this, it is up to the cat owner to be extra vigilant to look for (and recognize) the signs of a potential health issue, like:

  • Repeated vomiting 
  • Changes in eating or drinking habits
  • Changes in litter box habits
  • Diarrhea
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain 
  • Behavior changes
  • Discharge from ears, eyes, nose,or mouth
  • Limping
  • Changes in grooming habits

Common Medical Issues

Since cats downplay when they are feeling sick, they often miss out on routine vet visits. Many of the most common feline medical issues can be treated fairly well with early intervention. Unfortunately, many cats do not even see the vet once a year for wellness or diagnostic care to catch problems early. Here are some of the most common feline illnesses that require veterinary care:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Rabies
  • Ringworm
  • Periodontal disease
  • FIV
  • Feline leukemia virus

Human-Feline Bond

Dogs make friends wherever they go. Cats are significantly more aloof. They often choose to enjoy a solo nap in the sun rather than spending time with others. Cats tend to have a reputation for being completely unenthused by us humans. They do have their circles of trust, however, and many of them even have a favorite human. Like Disney’s Ariel, dogs want to be where the people are. Cats only want to be with those people and animals that they truly trust. If you are lucky enough to have earned the trust of a feline, you can be sure that they feel completely comfortable around you.

It’s pretty obvious that cats are not small dogs and have their own unique needs for care and happiness. 

At Union Lake Veterinary Hospital, we understand the unique health needs of cats. We love caring for our feline friends, and are always happy to give you advice on how to keep them safe and happy. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment for your kitty, please call us at 248-363-1508.