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Cat Talk

cat talk

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General Feline Care and Health - Frequently Asked Questions


1. My cat isn't feeling well. Can you help me determine what is wrong with him?

We are sorry to hear that your cat is not feeling well. However, the Cat Fanciers' Association is not staffed to provide veterinary information or assistance on an individual basis. Visiting your own veterinarian is your best course of action. You can also find feline health related books through our catalog.

The Cornell University Feline Health Center operates a medical information hotline available to both practicing veterinarians and pet owners. Note that there may be a charge for consulting with them. The phone number is 1-800-548-8937. Your own veterinarian is, of course, your best source for information.

2. Which breed of cat do you recommend for someone who has allergies?

Unfortunately, there is not one breed of cat that has a 100% guarantee not to cause reactions in an individual who is sensitive to cat allergens. Some people find that several of the shorthair breeds are less aggravating to people with allergies, especially if the cat is given a bath every other week or so. A great deal would depend on the severity of the allergy and what one is willing to put up with just for the pleasure of having a cat.

3. My cat is a male, but he is a calico. Is he valuable, or just extraordinary?

While it is fairly rare, occasionally there are male cats who exhibit the female colors such as tortoiseshell and calico. Male cats of these colors have no significant value in a breeding program and are often sterile. While they are unique, they are not considered to be of an exceptional monetary value.

If he is a pedigreed cat, you will be able to register him as a male; however, it is our policy to register males of a female color as "not for breeding." Once registered, he would be eligible to be shown only in the AOV category of his breed.

If he is unregistered, male domestic cats exhibiting these female colors can be shown in the Household Pet Class.

4. Can you tell me which breed my cat is?

Unless the kitten/cat you have was purchased from a breeder, it is most likely that the cat is not of any one specific breed. Random-bred cats exhibit their own unique features and are often found in beautiful color combinations. Your cat is most likely a random-bred cat who exhibits a combination of different gene pools. While there are many random-bred cats that exhibit certain qualities and features of pedigreed breeds, it is almost impossible to tell if a cat is truly of a certain breed without the availability of a pedigree or registration papers.

5. My cat has FIP. Can I do anything to save him?

Unfortunately, FIP is a devastating disease and it is almost always fatal. As always, your veterinarian is your best source for information and will work with you to keep your cat comfortable as long as possible.

6. I'd like to give my daughter a kitten as a present. What do you recommend?

Many breeders make it a standard practice not to sell their kittens as "presents." Most breeders prefer that a new kitten not be introduced into a strange household during the rush and excitement of Christmas, a birthday, Mother's Day, or other major holiday. Many breeders will also require that the recipient of the kitten picks out his/her own kitten so that they get the treasured companion that they are seeking.

Sometimes, a photo of a specific breed with a gift certificate for a kitten would be a better way to go. A book about a specific breed and their care is always a good first step. A surprise trip to a breeder's home for a pre-arranged visit to choose a kitten could be another way to handle this gift. If preference in breed and color is unknown, an appropriate alternative would be to include a gift certificate for a "kitten of your choosing" with the card.

As the recipient is ultimately going to be the responsible care-giver for this cat for several years, it is important that s/he is a part of the original decision process.

7. Why do cats always land on their feet?

The ability of cats to land on their feet is a result of their fine sense of balance and body position. These characteristics give them a real advantage because they can use their legs to cushion the fall and are then in a position to immediately run, jump, or move in any direction that might be necessary.

8. Where can I get financial aid to have my cat spayed or neutered?

Check with your local humane society as many offer low-cost spay and neuter programs. There are also a number of organizations throughout the United States and Canada that may provide financial assistance with the spaying or neutering of cats. The Spay Helpline number is: 1 800 248 SPAY. SPAY USA provides free or low cost services. For more information go to: www.spayusa.org.

9. I need to move across country with my cat. Any advice?

When moving your household long distances, you may find that traveling by car with your cat(s) is the only option.

When traveling by car, your cat should be confined to a carrier at all times. You will want to strap the carrier into a seat belt for added safety.

The majority of cats will curl up and sleep after a period of meowing to let you know that they are there. If their favorite cat bed is in the carrier, they will most likely be much happier. If your cat does have a known aversion to traveling by car, you can talk to your veterinarian about ways to make your cat safe and comfortable.

More tips for moving and traveling with your pet can be found on the AVMA site

If a hotel stay is required, you must check with your hotel property/chain to be sure that pets are welcome in their rooms. Hotel etiquette is always important when traveling with a pet. You must also be fully prepared with a litter pan, litter, food, dishes, garbage bags and toys.

If traveling by car is not an option, cats in carriers are allowed as carry-on baggage in the cabin of aircraft with a pre-purchased ticket. The rules and regulations for taking a cat as excess baggage (in the luggage area of the plane) have recently changed and if you are considering this option, you must check with the airline for current regulations. Direct flights are always recommended when traveling with pets.

Another alternative is to leave your cat with friends who can ship the cat via air cargo to you once you have arrived at your new destination. This again requires pre-planning and is subject to airline restrictions which include weather conditions at both the departing and arrival cities. If you choose this option, a direct flight is always the best choice.

Note that whether you are taking your cat in cabin or shipping the cat, the airline will require a current health certificate. Check with the airline for any other required paperwork.

If you and your cat are traveling to an overseas destination, you must be aware of the import regulations of the countries you will be entering. Some countries require quarantine for a period of time, while others merely require certain vaccinations and health certificates. A listing of International entry requirements can be found at: http://www.petrelocation.com/pet-relocation-resources/international-pet-import-requirements

10. The breeder says I must spay/neuter my new kitten. Do I have to?

It is a common contractual practice that breeders require people purchasing kittens as pets to have them neutered or spayed when they are of age. CFA lends its support by including a "not for breeding" stipulation on registration papers and will not register kittens from a cat registered as "not for breeding." The American Kennel Club has a similar provision for dogs, called "limited registration."

There are many reasons that a responsible breeder might determine that a cat falls short of meeting the high standards for health, temperament and/or the written standard of perfection for the breed, and therefore should not be bred. If you were aware of this when you bought your cat and entered into a contract to that effect, you will have no recourse through CFA.

If you would like to breed cats, you can ask for references at CFA-licensed cat shows in your area that can help you understand the subtle differences between a breeding quality cat and one that should be a neutered or spayed, beloved pet.

11. Is my cat considered special because he has extra toes on each paw?

Extra toes on a cat are a genetic anomoly known as "Polydactyl." A cat that is a polydactyl is not a special breed. Often, these types of cats are known as a "hemingway" cat because the cats on the Ernest Hemingway estate in Florida exhibit this trait.

For more information on the cats living on the Hemingway Estate...

12. How much is a pedigreed cat going to cost?

Pricing on kittens is up to each individual breeder and may vary depending upon the quality of the kitten, its bloodlines, its color, or even its markings. Pricing also tends to vary in different locations around the country. When talking to a breeder, price and conditions of sale should definitely be discussed. You will also need to determine if the price you agree upon includes the registration papers and breeding rights.

13. How can I tell which sex my kitten is?

For help in sexing a kitten, please refer to these diagrams