How to Prevent a Pet Tick Infestation

Ticks are no joke! These parasitic insects will latch onto people and other animals and feed on their host’s blood. They often move between different types of animals in each phase of their 2-3 year lifespan. There are a few varieties of ticks, each of which tend to prefer different host animals. There are many varieties of ticks in North America, however only a handful are of serious concern to your pets. Although it’s less common than with dogs, cats are also at risk of contracting ticks and the ensuing potential diseases. For both cats and dogs, the ticks they’re most likely to encounter in BC and the West Coast of Canada are: 

  • Rocky mountain wood tick
  • Western blacklegged tick
  • Brown dog tick 

Other common ticks found in parts of Canada and North America are Lonestar ticks, Gulf coast ticks, etc. Tick species can vary widely depending on which part of the world you live in, so you should always do your research or ask your veterinarian about local species that are potential concerns for the health of your pet. Knowing more about these parasites can help you understand how to prevent a pet tick infestation from happening in the first place. 

Why you need to prevent pet tick infestations

Tick bites and infestations aren’t just an annoyance. Even one or two tick bites puts your pet at risk of contracting a tick-borne disease, some of which can be very serious or even life threatening. These diseases include: 

Lyme disease

This is the most infamous tick-borne disease and for good reason. Lyme disease originates in a tiny bacterial organism, which lives inside of the tick. When a tick carrying this bacteria bites your pet, there’s a high chance of it being passed along. Lyme disease is most likely to affect dogs and humans, and the disease can be transmitted between the two. 

Thankfully, it’s exceedingly rare for cats to contract lyme disease from a tick, but it’s still not impossible. Symptoms of lyme disease include lethargy, fever, long-lasting joint pain leading to lameness, loss of appetite, and fatigue. It can also lead to more serious issues, such as kidney or heart disease. Symptoms of lyme disease may also not present themselves for days or weeks after the initial tick-bite, making it more difficult to identify the problem. 


Ehrlichiosis is a blood infection transmitted by a tick infected with a specific bacterial organism. The infected tick will bite another animal, passing the organism on and transmitting the disease. It’s most commonly seen in dogs and humans, and is very rarely seen in cats. 

This disease moves through three stages, each becoming more severe, so it can be difficult to identify. However, it’s vital to diagnose and treat ehrlichiosis as early as possible in order to protect your pet. The symptoms of the disease’s first phase, known as the acute phase, include weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, spontaneous hemorrhaging or bleeding, respiratory issues, and fever. The disease can progress all the way to much more serious problems, including major bleeding episodes, anemia, excessive swelling in the limbs, lameness, and sight problems that can include total blindness. 


Like with other tick-borne diseases, anaplasmosis is primarily a concern for dogs, but it can also be contracted in humans and cats. This disease can come in two forms, each affecting different parts of your pet’s blood. It’s important to know that an animal can have both types of the disease at the same time, so don’t rule out one if you notice signs of the other. 

Granulocytic anaplasmosis is an infection of the white blood cells, which can lead to symptoms such as lameness, lethargy, and fever. In more serious cases, granulocytic anaplasmosis may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and coughing or other respiratory issues, but these symptoms are less common. This type of anaplasmosis can be very hard to identify, since many dogs who contract it only show vague symptoms, if any. However, if the disease is caught early enough, there’s normally a good prognosis for your pet. 

The other type of anaplasmosis is known as infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia, which affects the platelets in your dog’s blood. Less is known about this disease, but it has been found in ticks and is thought to be transmitted to dogs via bites. Like the other type of anaplasmosis, symptoms of this disease can include loss of appetite, fever, and lethargy. Unlike the other form of the disease, however, this version can also cause bruising on your dog’s gums and abdomen, as well as nosebleeds. Thankfully, the prognosis for infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia is also usually good if caught early enough. 

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, also known as RMSF, is a serious disease caused by yet another bacteria that lives inside of some ticks. The bacteria is passed via a tick bite, and can lead to serious symptoms including fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and in some cases, heart issues, pneumonia, kidney failure, liver damage, or serious neurological problems such as seizures and a general lack of coordination. 

RMSF is primarily a concern for dogs and humans, but it is also sometimes seen in cats. If an animal successfully overcomes a RMSF infection, they’ll generally return to normal health and be immune to future infections. However, if the disease has progressed enough, it is more difficult to treat and may require your pet being hospitalized.

How to prevent tick-borne illnesses

Currently the only vaccine available for tick borne diseases is the Lyme Vaccine, however a proactive and preventive approach is needed to keep you and your pet safe. Furthermore, your dog can still bring ticks into your home, putting you, your family, and your other pets at risk. That’s why veterinarians recommend an ongoing treatment for overall pet tick prevention. 

For most of the above diseases, the tick must be attached for at least a few hours, and sometimes up to one or two days in order to transmit the bacteria. This means that there are a few tick prevention treatments that can protect both you and your pet. 

For dogs, many people choose a topical treatment that kills ticks and fleas on contact, meaning parasites don’t ever get the chance to bite your pet. This provides the best protection for your pet and minimizes the risk of them contracting a disease. You should never use flea or tick prevention medicine intended for dogs on your cat, since the chemicals in these treatments can sometimes be extremely harmful for felines. In general, always defer to your veterinarian’s advice when choosing a tick prevention treatment. 

In addition to keeping up with medications to prevent infestation, you should regularly check any pets that spend time outdoors for tick bites. Most treatments aren’t one hundred percent effective, so you should get in the habit of thoroughly and regularly checking your pet. Ticks are attracted to warm, moist areas of the body, so pay special attention to these areas: 

  • In and around the ears 
  • Around the tail 
  • Near the eyes 
  • Under your pet’s collar 
  • Under the front legs and between the back legs 
  • Between the toes 

Do everything you can to minimize your pets’ exposure to ticks in the first place. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you which species of ticks are of the most concern in your area and what kinds of places you should avoid when with your pet. 

If you’ve found a tick on your pet, you can remove it at home, or you can get your veterinarian to do it for you. Regardless of the option you choose, you should always take your pet into the vet for a full examination after finding a tick infestation or bite. Your veterinarian will perform urine and blood pathology tests, blood smear tests, and a full clinical exam to check for signs of any of the above tick-borne illnesses, which is vital in order to catch these diseases early and keep your pet safe.

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Why is My Cat Coughing and Wheezing?

There’s nothing quite as concerning as noticing your pet is getting sick and not knowing what the problem is. It can be even more difficult for cat owners in particular, since cats tend to hide their illnesses as much as possible. However, if you’ve started to notice your cat coughing or wheezing, there are a few things to be on the lookout for so you can get to the bottom of their condition and help them as soon as possible.

One thing to bear in mind is that coughing is not always a concern in cats. Cats will usually cough when passing hairballs, which is a perfectly normal response. However, you should keep an eye out for a few things so you can tell if your cat is in need of help. 

Causes for coughing in cats

There are a few problems and conditions that can make your cat start coughing, ranging from serious concerns to mild issues. Like humans, cats cough as an instinctive response to clear the airway of some kind of irritant. Some of the most common causes for coughing in cats include: 

  • Asthma 
  • Respiratory infections or diseases 
  • Allergies to dust, pollen, or strong scents 
  • Heartworm or other parasites (lungworm) 
  • Passing hairballs 

As you can see, there’s all manner of reasons for your cat to be coughing, and some are much more serious than others. With that in mind, here’s a list of things to be on the lookout for in order to keep your cat as healthy as possible.

1. Coughing without hairballs

This is often an owner’s first sign that a cat’s cough is not normal, and might be in need of medical attention. It’s common for cats to pass one or two hairballs a month, which is usually accompanied by a dry cough. However, if they’re coughing like this more frequently than that, and especially if they don’t pass a hairball during the coughing, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. If your cat is having frequent or semi-frequent cough attacks, it could be a sign of feline asthma, which is a very serious condition if left untreated.

2. Persistent, chronic coughing

One of the most worrying ways for coughing in cats to show up is when it happens repeatedly. If you notice your cat start coughing, keep a close eye on them in the following days. If it’s continuing without seeming to get better, or if it’s worsening, it could be a sign of asthma or an infection, and they’ll likely need to see a vet right away.

3. Wet coughs

Like humans, cats will sometimes have productive, or wet coughs when sick. These are caused by excess mucus and phlegm building up in the airway, which is often a sign of a lower respiratory infection. A wet cough is usually much more of a concern than a dry one, so be sure to take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice it.

4. Wheezing

If your cat is wheezing when breathing, particularly between coughs, it could be a sign that they’re not getting enough oxygen. The wheezing sound is usually caused by parts of the airway being constricted, meaning oxygen is not passing through as easily as it should be. This can be caused by swelling and inflammation, and is often a sign of an infection or asthma.

5. Sneezing

Like humans, cats can sneeze from time to time without being sick or having other issues. However, if they’re sneezing a lot, and especially if they’re coughing or wheezing at the same time, it could indicate a more serious problem. Since it can be caused by allergies, or a viral or bacterial infection, sneezing can be hard to trace back to an original issue. That’s why it’s a good idea to get your cat checked out by a vet if they’re frequently sneezing.

6. Weight loss and lethargy

Cats are predators, which means just about every cat keeps those primal instincts locked away. One of these instincts is a cat’s response to being sick, where they’ll often hide away and isolate themselves until they recover. This instinct traces back to cats keeping themselves safe when they’re unable to defend themselves, but it can make keeping an eye on your cat’s health more difficult. If, in addition to a cough, you’ve noticed your cat being more lethargic and stationary than usual, or if they begin to lose weight, it could be a sign of an infection or a parasite, which will need to be treated by a veterinarian right away.

7. Returning cough

It can be scary as a cat owner to think you’ve overcome a cat’s cough, only for it to return days, weeks, or months later. If your cat’s cough keeps coming back, it’s likely a sign of a more serious issue in your cat, such as feline asthma. Make sure to bring them into your vet if you notice a cough that keeps coming back. 

How to Help Your Coughing Cat

If your cat is coughing, it’s almost always a health concern. The only time you shouldn’t be worried is if they’re only coughing while passing hairballs, and seem to be breathing properly at all other times. If your cat is experiencing wheezing, coughing, sneezing, or any of the other issues listed above, it’s likely a sign that something is going on with your furry friend. It could be a number of causes, however you won’t be able to know for sure until your cat is examined by a professional. 

Always defer to your veterinarian when treating a cat’s cough. Attempting treatment without a professional diagnosis can not only be ineffective, but also it may even worsen your cat’s illness. Your veterinarian will provide recommendations and advice to look after your cat depending on what they find in the examination, but here are a few ideas to help manage symptoms for specific conditions: 

  • If your vet discovers your cat has an allergy, do what you can to eliminate any allergy triggers in the house. Avoid using scented sprays, oil diffusers, and harsh chemicals in the house. Don’t smoke around your cat, and consider switching to a low dust litter for their litter box. 
  • If your cat is found to have feline asthma, make sure you’re diligent about treating this condition. While feline asthma is a lifelong condition and unfortunately there is no cure for it, it can be successfully managed when caught early. Medications for asthma in cats come in a few different forms, including oral, injectable, and inhaled. Inhaled medications are preferred and usually the most effective, and work by reducing swelling and opening constricted airways. 
  • Other medications are sometimes prescribed by veterinarians to treat an ongoing or otherwise troublesome cough. Depending on the root source of the issue, these can include cough suppressants, antibiotics, or anti-parasite medication. 

If your cat is dealing with an ongoing cough, or any other persistent health issue, you owe it to them to get the best care possible. Choosing a trusted veterinarian is one of the most important things you can do to keep your cat safe and healthy, so you should always make it a priority to visit them before your cat is in need of more urgent medical attention.

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The Benefits of Pet Insurance You Need to Know About

As a pet owner, you have the responsibility of the health, happiness, and overall well-being of your animal. Much like any other life partner, your duties to a pet are in sickness and in health, good times and tough times.

One important part of this responsibility is being prepared in case something happens to your pet. Perhaps your dog swallows something they weren’t supposed to, or your cat falls ill. These problems often require professional veterinary care, and depending on the necessary procedures, the costs can quickly add up. 

Even with a dedicated savings put aside, certain health issues with your pet might put you in a difficult financial situation—that’s where having pet insurance comes in.

Pet insurance is best recommended to get while the pet is young. This is to avoid any medical exclusions. While it is best to get while young, older pets can still very much benefit from pet insurance.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is a health policy that an owner puts in place for their pet. In exchange for a monthly premium, your insurance company will provide reimbursement for a multitude of procedures and treatments at the veterinarian. While we always hope to never need to use pet insurance, it remains one of the best ways to protect the finances of an owner and the safety of the pet. 

Not every pet owner is completely prepared to foot the bill for necessary treatments. Pet insurance allows people to take the stress of finances off the mind of pet owners, allowing them to simply make the best decisions for the health of their pet.

Perhaps you’re looking into getting a pet, or you’ve recently adopted a new one, and you’re wondering if pet insurance is a worthwhile investment. If you ask us, it’s one of the most important ways you can protect your pet and yourself. With that said, here are the six biggest benefits of pet insurance and setting up a policy.

1. Save money at your veterinarian’s office

Saving money is one of the biggest reasons people choose to set up pet insurance. Depending on your policy of choice, your plan could be paying for itself in just one or two urgent visits. Although you’ll have to pay the cost of your vet visit up front, you’ll be able to get reimbursed for your portion. At the most basic level, pet insurance simply makes good financial sense.

2. Gain access to the best possible pet care

Rather than being forced to choose between the most advanced, effective treatments and your pocketbook, pet insurance gives you access to options when it comes to pet healthcare. In recent years, technology in the veterinary field has been advancing rapidly, and there are now many more options for the owners of sick or injured pets than ever before. Chemotherapy for instance is an effective way to treat cancer in pets, but it can often be very expensive for people without insurance. Having a policy in place beforehand allows you to think about what the best option for your pet would be, rather than concerning yourself about what you’ll be able to afford.

3. Pay a small, regular fee instead of saving for emergencies

It can be difficult to keep a sizable emergency fund aside in case of a health issue with your pet. Rather than saving every spare dollar in case of the worst, you can pay a small monthly premium to your insurance company in exchange for pet healthcare coverage, which opens up more financial options for you. 

4. Choose a flexible policy for your pet

Because people’s pets are so varied and unique, pet insurance offers many flexible policies for all kinds of animals, breeds, and ages. Just because your pet is older doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get pet insurance for them, and doing so will often pay off down the road. Furthermore, with lots of competition in the pet insurance market, you’ll be able to get a variety of quotes and find something affordable.

5. Gain peace of mind

The number one reason people choose to set up a pet insurance plan is for peace of mind. We know how much you love your pet and want to provide them with the best care possible. As a pet owner, you are responsible for ensuring that they’re well looked after in even the worst case scenario. Pet insurance allows you to rest easy knowing that providing your pet with the care they need won’t be an issue, regardless of the necessary treatments and procedures.

As a pet owner, you have countless duties when it comes to looking after your four-legged family member. Whether it’s taking them for exercise, feeding them right, or cleaning up after them, we perform these responsibilities as an act of love for our pets—insurance is no different. By setting up a good pet insurance policy from the outset, you can be confident in knowing that your pet will have access to the best possible care no matter what, allowing the two of you to have a long, healthy, and happy life together.

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“How Can I Keep My Cat Healthy?” 6 Main Things

In many ways, cats are independent creatures who do fairly well for themselves. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need our help to stay in the best possible physical condition. There are many, many considerations to be made when it comes to keeping your cat healthy. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should be a starting point for anyone wondering how to take good care of their feline friend. Here are six good tips on how to keep your cat healthy.

1. Choose their diet carefully

Unlike humans, who are omnivorous and can eat a variety of food groups, cats are carnivores, which means they strictly need to eat a diet that is formulated for their unique metabolism to maintain optimal health. With that in mind, it’s important that your cat is getting the nutrients they need from their food. 

When choosing a cat food, whether wet or dry, always take care to read the labels and ensure you’re making the best choice based on your vet’s recommendations. It’s best you ask them for advice when choosing a good quality food for your cat. A well balanced canned/wet food is always preferable as the primary diet.

2. Ensure your cat is well-hydrated

In the wild, cats don’t tend to drink a lot of water since they usually hydrate from the animals they hunt. For this reason, it’s important to ensure your cat is drinking enough water at home. If your cat is regularly dehydrated, it can lead to serious health issues later on. 

Some cats are more willing than others to drink from a regular water dish, but if you suspect they’re not drinking enough, there are a few things you can try to help encourage them. One way is to invest in a water fountain built specially for cats, since many prefer to drink from a moving water source. Wet food is an excellent source of water for your feline friend. Whatever the accommodations may be, your cat should always have constant and ready access to fresh water.

3. Monitor their weight, and make adjustments as necessary

One of the best things you can do for your cat is to ensure they’re at a healthy weight. Feline obesity comes with a suite of potential health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, joint pain, and more. Rather than addressing these issues as they come up, it’s best to sidestep them entirely by simply monitoring your cat’s weight throughout their life. 

Your veterinarian will weigh your cat each time they’re brought in for a check-up, and they can make recommendations if they become overweight for their age and breed. It’s best to follow your vet’s advice to the best of your ability, particularly when it comes to managing your cat’s weight. It can lead to your cat living a much longer, happier, and healthier life.

4. Play with your cat and give them a stimulating environment

This is an especially key point for indoor cats, but is true for all of them. Cats are often thought of as being very low-maintenance pets, and to an extent, that’s true. They don’t need to be walked like a dog, and often would prefer to do their own thing. However, there’s a difference between giving a cat their space and neglecting them entirely. Lack of activity can lead to obesity, cats destroying things for entertainment, and even stress-related illnesses and infections.

Keep life interesting for your cat by providing them with a diverse variety of toys for them to play with, both on their own and with you. It’s also vital to make time to play with your cat. After all, you’re their whole world, and they depend on their person to engage with them and take the time to play. Every cat is different, but there are a few things you can try to keep your cat entertained and active, such as:

  • Giving your cat plush toys to play with on their own, particularly with a catnip scent
  • Engaging your cat with toys at the end of poles or strings that your cat can chase around
  • Leaving balls or other toys for your cat to chase on their own (particularly if they make an enticing noise)
  • Having your cat chase a laser pointer
  • Playing fetch with your furry friend—some cats love it!

Overall, anything you can do to keep your cat active will be great for them in the long run. It provides them with entertainment beyond simply attacking you or knocking things onto the floor, and it sharpens their hunting instincts as well. One other way to help with this (depending on what kind of home you live in) is with a second cat. Assuming they get along, the two cats will often keep each other active, whether chasing one another around the house, wrestling, or simply providing company and entertainment.

Indoor cat initiative is an excellent resource to help enrich your feline friend’s indoor environment. Here is the link for you.

5. Make sure you can track down your cat in case they run away

Cats can be cunning, and even the most well-secured indoor cats may escape outside from time to time. Normally, they just want to explore a little and are likely to come back, but on the off-chance they do actually run away, you’ll want the peace of mind that you can track them down again without too much trouble. A collar with an up-to-date tag with their name and your contact information is one great way to ensure they find their way back to you one way or another, and of course, a microchip is the most reliable way to reunite owners with their lost cats.

6. Take your cat in for regular check-ups with your veterinarian

Perhaps more than anything else, the best thing you can do to keep your cat healthy is to check in regularly with an expert on their health. You should establish a relationship with a trusted veterinarian as soon as you get a new cat. If you’re able to keep going to the same one, they’ll also begin to get familiar with your pet and will be able to better help you look after them. 

Bringing your cat into the vet, even for a simple check-up, a few times a year drastically improves the chances of catching potential health issues early, allowing you to get on top of these problems before they become full-blown conditions. Your veterinarian can also monitor your cat’s weight, make recommendations for food, toys, and other necessities, and provide overall peace of mind that your cat is healthy and happy as can be.

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How to be Proactive about Protecting Your Pet from Fleas

There are fewer words a pet owner wants to hear less than “your pet has fleas”. Fleas are pesky parasites, and in addition to being a major annoyance for us humans, they can cause serious problems for the unlucky animal playing host. 

Thankfully, flea treatment and prevention has come a long way, and now, with the right measures, these irritating creatures can be mitigated fairly easily. Addressing fleas before they become a problem will not only save you time, money, and hassle later on, but it will ensure your pet’s safety and comfort at the same time. Here are some proactive flea prevention tips for your pets.

How to Identify a Flea and Causes of Infestation

Most of us are aware of fleas and understand what they do, but do you know what a flea infestation looks like? Fleas are small, wingless insects that survive by feeding off of the blood of larger animals. They are reddish-brown in colour, usually just a couple of millimetres long, and can exist almost anywhere in the world. They don’t fly, and instead get around by jumping (relatively) massive distances. They survive by feeding off the blood of mammals, and sometimes birds.

It’s possible for a home to become infested with fleas year-round – in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, fleas are around all year. Typically, fleas enter the home with other animals. Since dogs tend to spend more time outside, they are at a greater risk of contracting fleas, but outdoor cats can provide an unwitting ride for the tiny insects as well. Additionally, fleas can enter the home with people, visiting animals, or in some cases, on the backs of unwanted animals, such as mice and rats.

There are a number of issues that can be caused by a flea infestation in your pet:

  • Fleas can cause a lot of discomfort in your pet from all the bites
  • Your pet will likely scratch and bite at their skin repeatedly to try and get some relief, leading to irritated skin and other wounds. 
  • Additionally, fleas can carry tapeworms, which can be passed onto your pet as well. 
  • Some animals are allergic to flea bites, which can be very serious if left untreated. 
  • Additionally, constant scratching can lead to infections, creating an even bigger problem.

Fleas can bite people, but they tend not to actively live on them in the same way they do with other animals. Fleas prefer furry animals, making cats and dogs obvious targets. Once on an animal, a flea will remain there until they are killed or die off naturally. However, they’re also capable of laying eggs in the fur of an animal, which will eventually hatch and start the whole frustrating process over again.  

Now that you know a little more about fleas, you’re probably wondering how best to prevent them from becoming a problem with your pet, and by extension, in your home. Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take to be proactive about flea prevention, addressing the problem before it’s too late.

Watch for the Signs of a Flea Infestation

One of the best ways to ensure your pet is flea-free is simply to keep an eye on their behaviour and take note of anything unusual. Pets that have fleas on them will be very uncomfortable, so it should be fairly easy to tell if there’s an infestation in progress. Here are some things to look for when watching for fleas in your pet:

  • Excessive scratching, chewing, licking, and grooming
  • Red, irritated skin, especially on the neck, belly, and hindquarters
  • Dark brown ‘flea dirt,’ which is the flea’s excrement, present in your pet’s fur

If you notice any of these signs, confirm your suspicions by brushing through your pet’s fur with a fine-tooth comb. You may spot some moving spots, which are fleas, but it’s more likely you’ll see more ‘flea dirt.’ You can confirm that this is flea excrement and not regular dirt by brushing it onto a wet piece of paper towel. It will turn red, indicating that this is dried blood sucked from your pet and passed on by the flea.

Check Your Pet Regularly

It’s good to routinely check your pet for fleas. You can purchase a flea comb from your local pet store. Having your pet on a monthly flea product can prevent the hassle of checking—while flea baths can help soothe your pets skin, flea shampoos are not 100% effective. Your veterinarian is the best resource for effective external parasite prevention based on your pet’s lifestyle. 

Choose an Appropriate Preventative Flea Medication

For dogs and outdoor cats, your vet may recommend a preventative flea treatment. These can vary widely depending on your pet, but they tend to be a topical solution or oral tablet intended to be taken regularly. Be wary of over-the-counter flea treatments, as these can differ drastically in their effectiveness and safety for your pet. If your vet identifies your pet as being at-risk for fleas, they’ll make the necessary recommendations for preventative treatment.

One very important thing to note is to never use flea medication intended for a cat on a dog, or vice versa. Preventative flea formulas for one animal may actually be toxic for another, so always follow your veterinarian’s advice to the letter.

Keep Your House Clean and Sanitized

A great way to prevent a flea infestation is to keep your home clean. 

  • There are some chemical products intended to treat an environment for fleas, but be cautious with these, as some can be harmful to the people and/or animals they’re intended to protect. 
  • Deep clean your carpets, towels, blankets, and other fibrous surfaces. Fleas will sometimes take refuge in all of this, particularly if they come into frequent contact with your pet. 
  • Vacuum carpets, pet-specific blankets, towels, and pet beds frequently to decrease any fleas or flea eggs hiding out there. 
  • Always empty your vacuum canister outside and wash it with soap and water afterwards to ensure no hangers-on are reintroduced to your home.

Maintain a good routine of regular hygiene for your pet

It is typically recommended that you treat all your pets every month for fleas, as fleas can lay dormant in your home and in British Columbia they are around all year. This is in addition to their regular bathing and grooming. 

Take your pet to see your veterinarian regularly

The best thing you can do to ensure your pet’s health is to simply take them in for their routine vet check-ups. Of course, you do your best to run checks on them and ensure they’re free of any pesky pests, but there’s nothing better than a comprehensive veterinary examination. Your veterinarian can recommend the proper flea and tick medication based on your lifestyle.

Fleas are a common fear for many pet owners, but with proper preventative care, they don’t need to be a huge concern. It’s very important to take the proper precautions to mitigate the risk of fleas and other parasites, and when done right, you’ll sidestep a lot of potential issues down the road. Not only will your home be free of fleas, but your pets will be healthy, comfortable, and happy.

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How to Motivate Your Cat to Take their Medicine

If you’re a cat owner, you know the only thing more difficult and stressful than a sick cat is getting them to take their medication. When it comes to oral medication, there are a few methods to encourage your cat to take it. The most effective methods vary, depending on the type of medication, (whether pill, capsule, or liquid) whether it should be taken with food or on an empty stomach, and of course, it all depends on the cat that’s taking it. 

If it’s your first time giving your cat a medication, don’t be discouraged by failed attempts. Keep experimenting to figure out a method that works for your pet, and ensure they’re as comfortable as possible while you’re keeping them healthy. Some of the most common ways to provide medication for your cat are the following.

The ‘meatball’ method

This is a great way to give medication that comes in a pill or capsule form, provided your veterinarian gives you the OK for your cat to take it with food. It’s a good idea to talk to them before you attempt this method.

The process is simple. Start by choosing a food your cat likes that can be easily rolled up into a ‘meatball’ shape—this could be your cat’s favourite wet food. If you’re trying this for the first time, it’s a good idea to provide a test meatball first before putting medication in it. This will ensure your cat will actually eat it! Once you’ve found a food that you think will work, place the pill or capsule into the centre of a small ball of food and give it to your cat. The entire ball should be small enough for the cat to eat it in one bite, which improves the odds of your cat swallowing all of the medicine. 

The meatball method is a great choice for many situations. However, it may not work if your cat generally chews their food well before swallowing. Cats tend to chew their food, which means they may end up biting into the capsule and tasting the medication. If this happens, the capsule or pill will be partially broken or dissolved and become harder to administer—not to mention that your cat may be less likely to cooperate in the future.

Administering by hand

If the meatball method doesn’t work for your cat, or if the medicine must be taken without food, you may need to administer it by hand. This can be tricky, as cats rarely like to cooperate when they know they’re taking medication. Thankfully, there are a few techniques to know that may make it easier for the both of you. 

One thing to keep in mind when giving oral medication to your cat is avoiding a bite. Cats have lots of bacteria in their mouth, and getting bit can lead to an infection, or at the very least, be quite painful. If you are bitten by your cat, clean your wound thoroughly and monitor for an infection.

The key to administering medication to your cat is to be confident, yet calm. You want to keep gentle but firm control over them the whole time. Follow these directions for giving your cat a pill or capsule orally: 

  1. Using your non-dominant hand, keep control of your cat’s head from the top down. 
    • Your cat’s cheekbones, otherwise known as the zygomatic arches, are a great place to keep a hold on the cat without causing any pain or discomfort. 
  2. From here, tilt the cat’s head back. Assuming you have a firm grasp on the top of the head, the cat will often instinctively drop their lower jaw. 
  3. Hold the pill or capsule in between your thumb and index finger in your dominant hand. You can also use your middle finger to keep your cat’s jaw open, just make sure you push down on the smaller incisor (front) teeth, and not on the sharper canines (fangs).
    • If your cat doesn’t open their jaw when you tilt their head back, follow the above instructions after using your middle finger on your dominant hand to pull their jaw open. 
  4. Using your middle finger to keep your cat’s jaw open, either drop the pill as far back on the tongue as possible, or use your fingers to push it towards the back of the throat.
    • If putting your fingers inside the cat’s mouth, work quickly to avoid getting bit.
  5. Once the pill is in your cat’s mouth, use your hands to keep their mouth shut. 
    • You can stroke the cat’s neck, or sharply blow on their nose. Either will encourage them to swallow. 
  6. You’ve successfully administered oral medication to your cat by hand!

Administering liquid medications

When administering liquid medications, you’re aiming to get it into the cat’s mouth, rather than directly down their throat.

  1. It’s alright to hold your cat’s head in order to keep them in place, but it’s very important to ensure their head is kept in its natural position, to avoid aspiration
  2. Quickly insert the medication via a dropper into the pouch between the cat’s cheek and teeth (on either side of the mouth). 
  3. Then, remove the dropper and hold the mouth closed. 
  4. Stroke their neck or blow on their nose as before until the cat swallows the medication.
  5. You have successfully administered liquid medication!

If you’re having repeated trouble with giving your cat medication, especially if it’s in pill or capsule form, talk to your veterinarian about the possibility of suspending it in liquid for easier administration. Many medications can be put into a liquid form, but not all of them. Always consult your veterinarian about your cat’s medication.

For tips on providing medication subcutaneously (aka through the skin), be sure to watch our YouTube video below where our staff provides a safe demonstration.*

*Please note: this video was recorded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and does not fully reflect our staff’s current health and safety standards. For more information on how we are working to keep you and your family safe, please refer to our website’s COVID-19 section.

If you have more questions about keeping up with your cat’s medicine routine, or you’re simply looking to get your furry friend checked out by our team of expert veterinarians, contact us today with your questions or to book an appointment.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

How to Keep Your Cat Happy and Safe During Christmas

Christmas is the busiest time of the year for everyone. There’s so much to do, especially if you are planning to have family and loved ones visit this year. The tree needs to be decorated, there’s planning and shopping for gifts to do, there’s food and baking to prepare for…the list goes on.

What about your pets though, particularly cats? A reality all cat owners must face is a huge number of hazards to watch out for during this busy time of the year. Luckily, we have some cat care-based solutions. These tips will help you both enjoy the holiday season without throwing an emergency trip to your veterinarian into the mix!

Problem #1: Christmas Trees

Who doesn’t love Christmas trees? They’re a classic symbol of the Christmas season. Unfortunately, your cat is also a fan of them. It’s hard to keep a cat from playing with Christmas trees and their decorations. Glass balls, garlands, beads, fake snow, ribbons, strings of Christmas lights, candy canes…you name it, it’s all hazardous for kitty. Your kitty may also get the bright idea to climb up and into the tree!

The type of tree you decide to decorate can also pose problems. If you chose to put a real tree in your home for Christmas, your kitty may want to drink the water from the tree stand which contains tree oils that are toxic to cats. Accidents such as bowel obstructions and poisoning can happen when Christmas trees and cats are mixed together, leading to an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital.

Solutions: Aside from keeping a close eye on your kitty during the day, it’s best to put up your tree in a confined room where the door can be shut. Keep your kitty distracted while the tree is being decorated by providing them with toys and even a few treats away from the excitement. You may even need to put kitty in a separate room with the door shut when it’s time to decorate. You will need to confine your kitty away from the tree whenever you are not at home or sleeping as well.

If your cat’s encounter with a Christmas tree is unavoidable, there are ways to cat-proof your tree. Try using a citrus repellant to spray on or near the tree; it can add a pleasant smell for you and keep your cat away (cats hate citrus smells!). You may need to re-apply the spray whenever necessary. If you insist on using a real tree for Christmas, find a covered tree stand to keep any kitten from drinking the water out of it or conceal your current one.

One creative solution we can offer is to vary your form of Christmas tree this year. For example, if you own a lot of books, why not make a book tree this year? There are lots of great ideas for how to make a book tree online if you don’t know already. You can set it up wherever your kitty can’t reach, leaving you ample room for decoration!

Speaking of such… let’s talk about ornaments for a minute.

Problem #2: Decorations

We’re not only talking about the ones you find on a Christmas tree, but also around the rest of the house. Tinsel is still sold in stores and used as a decoration, but it’s the number one hazard for cats! Basically, anything that glitters, glows, dangles, and spins will all convince kitty to play. Even the ribbons on top of your Christmas presents under the tree can be a choking hazard.

Solution: Plastic decorations are a good alternative to the fragile glass ones offered in stores. Any decorations that are matte, less shiny, and less than likely to dangle will also be less appealing to your cat. Be sure to fasten your decorations as securely as possible and to hang them out of kitty’s reach. When it comes to gift wrapping, it’s best to avoid adding ribbons and bows entirely. Try using a marker to write on your wrapped gifts instead of adding a tempting bow.

Problem #3: Christmas Plants

Poinsettias are another classic Christmas symbol, but did you know they’re actually highly toxic to cats? Holly, mistletoe, pine needles, amaryllis, and Christmas cactus leaves are also bad for kittens and could result in poisoning if ingested. If you see any signs of poisoning in your cat such as excessive drooling, vomiting, lethargy, breathing problems, diarrhea, or tremors, take them to your veterinarian right away!

Solution: Just like with decorations, there are plastic variations of Christmas plants that won’t bring harm to your cat, and you won’t have to give up decorating your home. If your kitty can’t reach certain areas in the home and you simply must have Christmas plants, keep them out of kitty’s reach just as you would with your regular decorations.

Problem #4: People Food

Both dogs and cats are guilty of trying to eat the same food humans do, especially roast turkey with gravy or ham. The smells are so enticing they can’t help but nibble. Unfortunately, human food is not okay for pets, and Christmas is another one of those holidays where pets may try to nibble on chocolate, much like on Halloween and Easter.

Solution: Offer your kitty some turkey or chicken-flavoured wet food that’s vet-approved instead of allowing them to eat human food (the tins wet food comes in usually contain gravy, so bonus!). Feed your kitty away from where you’re having Christmas dinner. If you have kids or are expecting children visitors, it’s a good idea to take them aside and show them exactly what they can and cannot give kittens as far as treats and food go.

We understand that these are a lot of precautions to worry about during Christmas, but don’t let this get you down! You can still have a wonderful holiday season by following our cat care advice. This is the time of the year where being with the ones you love matters the most. If you include your cat in the mix, we’re sure you won’t miss the other stuff at all!

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How to Prevent Heat-Related Problems for Indoor Cats

Summer is the prime time of the year when the heat is on…both outside and inside our homes. Do you raise an indoor cat 24/7? If so, did you know that even indoor kitties can get overheated?

It’s true. Even if your cat may not usually go outside or they only ever go out onto an enclosed patio, they are just as prone to heat problems as outdoor pets!

What Kinds of Heat-related Problems Should I Be Concerned About?

The most common type of problem is called hyperthermia, or heatstroke. Hyperthermia is the opposite of hypothermia in that rather than showing symptoms of being too cold, a cat may show signs of being too hot. Heat exhaustion or overheating is another common problem seen in cats, even indoor ones.

All of these problems can arise for a few reasons. A lot of exercise for your kitty while it’s hot is one; excessive heat in a location such as the patio is another.

Most of the time, cats know when to find a shady spot if they’re getting too warm. If you see your indoor cat displaying certain signs though, that’s when you should be concerned.

What are the Signs of Heat-related Problems in Cats?

Since cats are notorious for hiding their symptoms from sight, these signs may appear at first as vague. That being said, they can include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased or no appetite
  • Hiding
  • Sweaty paws
  • Dull looking and dry gums
  • Vomiting
  • Staggering
  • Restlessness
  • Panting (unlike dogs, cats don’t normally pant, so this is a serious sign)

Some of the above signs will be more extreme depending on whether or not your indoor cat has pre-existing medical conditions. Examples include obesity, feline asthma and other respiratory conditions, and heart disease. Older cats with such conditions will have a lower tolerance for heat compared to younger, healthy cats. 

What to Do if You See these Signs

Time is of the essence if you see these signs of overheating in your indoor cat. 

  • Move your kitty to a shadier, cooler spot. This may involve closing your curtains and blinds and turning off the lights.
  • Grab a dish cloth or paper towels. Soak either or in cool (not extremely cold) water. Wring out the water as much as possible and apply it to your cat’s paws and body, taking care to not get water in their ears. Unlike dogs who love to be soaked in water, cats have the opposite reaction so be careful with this step! 
  • Start a fan at low speed. Make sure the fan is not directed towards your cat as it may scare him/her.

If your indoor cat is showing any of the above signs and your attempts to cool them down aren’t working, bring your cat to a veterinarian right away! 

Prevention Tips for Heat-related Issues in Indoor Cats

These tips are your best means of ensuring hyperthermia or heat exhaustion doesn’t happen to your indoor cat in the first place. It’s helpful if your home has air conditioning (if not, we have a pointer about that as well).

  • While there is no “exact temperature” to keep in mind, the basic rule of thumb is, if it’s too hot for you even indoors, then it’s definitely too hot for your cat. Try to cool off your home for both your sakes.
  • Your cat may not appreciate this tip, but it’s got to be done: keep your cat inside while the sun is out at its hottest, usually between 11am and 3pm.
  • Open windows and curtains only when it’s cool outside. Close these during the hottest hours of the day, as described above. You can re-open them in the evening once it’s cooler out. Keep an eye on the temperature outside meanwhile (a quick check on your phone online, or by glancing at a thermostat outside, can help you determine this).
  • If your indoor cat must go out on the patio, leave a spot where they can withdraw and find shade when needed. As much as cats love to sunbathe, you should always make sure they stay cool. 
  • Air conditioning usually helps regulate the temperature inside. That being said, not every home has A/C. If your home is the latter, keep the rooms where your cat frequents the most cool with a ceiling or other form of fan.
  • Keep your indoor cat’s water flow going. Clean out their water dish if it gets too dirty. A water fountain may also be worth your consideration since they allow cats access to water at a regular rate (maintaining this matters too though; change the filter, clean the fountain, and refill it as recommended by the manufacturer).
  • Add some water to their dry food if hydrating your indoor cat is a struggle. Wet food is recommended by your cat’s vet, and also depends on their lifestyle and health needs.

Remember, even if your kitty lives indoors at all times, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to heat-related problems. Give us a call if you have any questions about heat-related problems in indoor cats or if you would like to schedule an appointment.

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How to Tell Your Cat is Stressed

Stress. It happens to everyone, for many reasons. Did you know that pets can feel stressed too?

Although both cats and dogs can get stressed out, cats are a little more concerning in terms of identifying stress thanks to their natural means of hiding their pain. Cats are predators by nature, so from their point of view displaying weakness means giving other predators an advantage over them.

The more stressed out a cat may be, the more they will try to hide that pain from you. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your cat’s behaviour and make note of any disruptions that have happened recently. Such disruptions may be the underlying cause for your cat’s anxiety.

Common causes of stress in cats

There are several causes of stress and anxiety in cats, mostly due to their daily routine being disrupted:

  • Moving to a new home
  • A new pet has been introduced to the house
  • Competition for food and water (if your home has multiple cats)
  • A new baby has arrived
  • Guests are visiting
  • A change in your cat’s diet has occurred
  • The litter box is too small, not cleaned enough, or placed next to the food and water
  • A change in your routine, such as being away from home for longer periods than normal

Some of these changes are preventable and easily remedied after your cat’s stress has been diagnosed. Other changes, however, are pretty big and unavoidable. The best thing you can do in terms of unavoidable change is to keep your cat’s routines as normal as possible while these bigger changes are going on. Keep an eye out for any of the below symptoms in the meantime.

The signs of stress in cats

Typically these are the top signs of a cat that’s very much stressed out:

  • Overgrooming, especially around their legs and belly
  • Inappropriate behaviour involving their litter box (urinating and defecating where they shouldn’t)
  • Aggressive behaviours (newer than per usual), such as biting, scratching, and hissing
  • Inactivity (especially if their personality is playful by nature!)
  • Trying to escape constantly
  • Loss of appetite or excessive eating
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cat ‘flu’ (i.e. a runny nose and eyes)

What’s frustrating about these signs is they are very similar to both stress in cats and disease-triggered symptoms! If any of these signs are present in your kitty, it’s time to stop stalling and take them to the vet.

What can I do for my cat?

The only way to properly decrease a cat’s stress and anxiety is to remove the stressors and causes. One of the best first steps you can take to achieving this is to discuss your cat and their stress and signs of it with your veterinarian. They can make a few recommendations such as diet, litter box, and if needed separation tips if you own multiple cats.

It’s worth mentioning that keeping vet appointments stress-free can help too! Before your appointment, get your cat used to their carrier. Leave it out in the open for your cat to pop in and out of, and throw the occasional treat inside it (not too many treats though!). Leave your cat’s favourite soft bedding or pillow inside of the carrier; familiar smells can be a great comfort to cats.

Once at the vet office, continue to keep your cat’s anxiety to a minimum. Only your veterinarian can determine whether the signs of stress are because of an underlying disease or they’re the beginning signs of one. They can also guide you on further prevention tips to keep your cat’s stress to a minimum.

Outside of going ahead with vet visits, there are several ways you can decrease your cat’s stress and prevent further behaviour problems at home:

  • Keep routines as normal as possible. Cats hate change (even though some changes are unavoidable!). The more you can keep routines as normal as possible, the better. Always practice kindness and patience with your cat if you’ve moved to a new home, for example.
  • Playtime is great anytime! Your cat may not be getting the activity they need. Be sure to make playtime a priority to lower your cat’s stress levels.
  • Cats prefer their world to be vertical. Adding a new cat tower or tall scratching post or perch can give your cat the luxury they need.
  • Afford your cat a hiding space if need be. Don’t force your cat to be social if they don’t want to be. If you have guests in your home, tell them the same.
  • Never, ever yell at or punish your cat for inappropriate soiling. These actions increase stress in cats, not decrease it!
  • Keep these rules in mind with your family and be consistent. For example, if you have a no-table rule (i.e. the cat is not allowed on the table) that you follow, but a family member allows your cat to do this, this can really confuse them and cause further stress! Again, patience and kindness are the best actions for this step.
  • Pheromones and anti-anxiety medicine for cats are a possibility if all else seems to fail. You can ask your veterinarian for recommendations or a prescription, or even purchase a pheromone diffuser through them. Be sure that when you receive these forms of stress relief for cats to follow your vet’s directions exactly.

Do you have any more questions or concerns about stress in cats? Give our staff at Hastings Veterinary Hospital a call. You can also book an appointment if you want to get an official diagnosis or you’re seeing the signs and need some extra help from a vet!

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Signs Your Cat is in Pain & Needs Help

Cats are not exactly known for their openness! If you’ve ever had the painful lesson after surprising a cat with a belly rub, you can attest to this fact. Cats can be difficult to read at the best of times, and this is even more true when they’re sick or in pain.

Like you, we are always looking for ways to keep our furry friends safe, healthy, and happy. That’s why it’s so important to go over some of the signs of pain or illness in cats, so that you can identify when there’s a problem, and get them help as soon as possible.

Why All the Secrecy?

After thousands of years of evolution and natural selection, even the friendliest kitties have the instincts of a predator. One of the most important behaviours when it comes to staying alive in the wild is hiding weakness. After all, an animal won’t be so concerned about seeing a cat if it knows they don’t pose as much of a threat. By hiding their pain, cats kept predators at bay and continued to strike fear into the little hearts of rodents everywhere. Additionally, this behaviour would help a wild cat avoid being left behind by their group.

This behaviour makes perfect sense for cats in the wild, but you’d think that with food in the bowl and a nice sunny spot to relax, cats would feel more at ease showing their vulnerable side. However, old habits die hard. Domestic cats may feel that they’ll have to compete for food and water, or even worry that they’ll become a meal for other animals in the home. As much as we wish we could reassure our feline friends that we’ll love them no matter what, the best we can do is keep a careful eye for any of the behaviour listed below.

Symptoms of Cat Pain or Illness

While exact behaviour will differ from cat to cat, there are a few general signs to watch out for. Here are some of the most common symptoms of sickness or pain in cats:

Hiding or Withdrawal

As mentioned before, primal instinct can take over when a cat feels they’re endangered. Wild cats would find hiding spots to rest and recover, keeping them safe from predators and the elements in the meantime. This behaviour often carries over to domestic cats, who will sometimes withdraw from interaction with humans or animals.

Sick cats will prioritize themselves over things they would normally be interested in. This includes socializing with people or other animals, playing with toys, hunting, or any other activities that take a lot out of them. This will all be harder to tell with a cat that’s already more on the aloof side, so pay special attention to their favourite activities and whether your cat is keeping up with them.

Sitting Still 

Cats in pain will often move less, particularly if they’re experiencing arthritis or another condition making movement more painful. You’ll notice this if your cat is typically more active, but even their body language can tell you a lot. If they’re hunched up or in an unusual position, there’s a good chance they’re in some discomfort.


Cats are naturally a bit obsessive over their hygiene. Not only is it a relaxing ritual, it helps to stimulate blood-flow, control body temperature, and keep wounds clean. Sick cats will often neglect to groom themselves, so keep an eye out. If their fur is matted and dirty, or if they’re beginning to pick up an odour, there may be something wrong. Additionally, sick cats may over-groom a single spot. This could be a symptom of stress, which often accompanies injury or illness. They could be trying to relieve an itch caused by a rash or other skin condition.

Unusual Noisiness 

Cats in pain may make an unusual amount of noise, or even noises that you haven’t heard before. Excessive meowing, crying, and other unusual vocalizations can all be cause for concern. However, these calls won’t always be a clear indicator of discomfort in your cat. Even excessive purring can be a warning sign that something’s wrong.

It’s important to bear in mind that in some cases, excessive vocalization isn’t always a cause for concern. Some breeds, such as Siamese cats, tend to be a bit noisier by default. Likewise, intact cats (cats that haven’t been spayed or neutered) may be louder during mating periods. Vocalizing in the litter box could be an indication of underlying urinary issues or constipation. However, if you’re in any doubt, it’s best to get a professional opinion on your noisy kitty.

Unusual Aggression 

It’s no secret that cats can be a bit…unpredictable, even at the best of times. One minute they’re rubbing against you like you’re best friends, and the next they’re in full on ‘psycho-kitty’ mode. This is pretty standard for many cats; however, atypical or extended aggression towards otherwise friendly environments can be a cause for concern. If your cat is being unusually destructive or violent, it may be confused, or aggravated by pain or illness.


By instinct, cats like doing their business in private, enclosed places, which is why litter boxes tend to be the go-to for a cat in need. If your cat normally uses their litter box, but then starts going wherever they please, there might be a problem. It’s possible that getting into the litter box has become too difficult for the cat, or perhaps it’s too far away from their current favourite spot.

What to Do If Your Cat is in Pain 

The best thing you can do for a cat that’s sick or in pain is to get help from the professionals. You know your cat better than anyone, which makes you the expert on knowing when something is out of the ordinary. If you notice unusual behaviour from your cat, it’s best to see a veterinarian and get to the bottom of what’s causing it. 

If you have other animals or small children in the house, do your best to keep rough-housing with your convalescing cat to a minimum. Giving them a peaceful environment will keep stress levels down and help them to heal faster. It will also help your cat trust people more, which is important for keeping an eye on their condition.

One thing to never do is administer any human-intended medication to your cat. Even a Tylenol can make them very sick, or possibly even kill them. Whether it’s painkillers or simply a supplement, you should always check with a veterinarian before giving your cat anything.

How Your Vet Can Help 

A veterinarian will help you to interpret the signals your cat is giving you, and determine what exactly is going on. From there, they’ll come up with a treatment plan to get your pet back in top shape. They may recommend medication, supplements or a new diet.

At Hastings Veterinary Hospital, we want to see your cat get back to normal as much as you do. Our dedicated staff offers professional animal care, with the end goal of making your pet feel safe, healthy, and at home. After all, a cat, or any pet, is another member of your family, and we treat them like a member of ours as well.

If you have any questions about pain, illness, or injuries in cats, don’t hesitate to contact Hastings Veterinary Hospital today.

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