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Pet Food & Nutrition


Nutrition Myths & Facts

For Veterinary Professionals

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Feline Care & Prevention

Pet health problems can take their toll on owner and pet alike. Learn more about certain feline health problems or conditions and come to a better understanding of their symptoms and potential solutions.

Feline Care & Prevention

Pet health problems can take their toll on owner and pet alike. Learn more about certain feline health problems or conditions and come to a better understanding of their symptoms and potential solutions.

Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

How should I go about brushing my cat's teeth?

The following article is taken from the "Purina® Animal Instincts" Podcast Series. Learn more at

Have you ever tried brushing your cat’s teeth? Linda Debowes, Co-owner of Shoreline Veterinary Dental Clinic in Seattle, says removing dental plaque helps keep kitty’s teeth and gums in tip-top condition. She states, “you really need to do it every day to help maintain your pet’s health.”

If you’ve never brushed your cat’s teeth before, start slowly. Rub her lips with tuna water or chicken broth, and then give her a reward. Do this for a few days. Then put a dab of cat toothpaste on a child-sized toothbrush and let the cat lick it off. Once your kitty is used to that, lift her lip and gently brush the outside of one canine tooth. Over time, extend the process to other teeth. Brush only the outer surfaces.

– Dr. Andrea Looney, DVM

Driving With Cats

How can I keep my cat from vomiting in car rides?

The following article is taken from the "Purina® Animal Instincts" Podcast Series. Learn more at

Many cats panic or even vomit during car rides, but there are some ways to help prevent your traveling tabby from becoming a queasy kitty.

To keep your cat from becoming miserable in motion, get her used to being in a carrier by letting her sleep and play in it at home. When you do go for a ride, cover the carrier with a blanket so your kitty feels safe. A particularly timid tabby may also benefit from a few short trial runs prior to taking a long drive.

To prevent vomiting, it’s also a good idea to keep your cat’s stomach empty on the day you travel. Feed her at your destination instead of before you go.

These simple steps should have your cat on the road to being a better traveler. But if she’s still struggling to stay stress-free in the car, ask your veterinarian about getting tranquilizers for long drives.

– Dr. Andrea Looney, DVM

Poisonous Plants For Cats

Some of the following plants can be toxic to your cat. Check with your veterinarian before having them in your home.

  • Aloe Vera
  • Apple (seeds)
  • Apricot (pit)
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Azalea
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Buckeye
  • Caladium
  • Castor Bean
  • Charming Dieffenbachia
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Clematis
  • Corn Plant
  • Croton
  • Cutleaf Philodendron
  • Cyclamen
  • Devil's Ivy
  • Dracaena Palm
  • Dumb Cane
  • Elaine
  • Emerald Feather
  • Eucalyptus
  • Florida Beauty
  • Fruit Salad Plant
  • German Ivy
  • Glacier Ivy
  • Golden Pothos
  • Heartland Philodendron
  • Indian Rubber Plant
  • Japanese Show Lily (especially cats!)
  • Lacy Tree Philodendron
  • Madagascar Dragon Tree
  • Marijuana
  • Miniature Croton
  • Morning Glory
  • Narcissus
  • Nephytis
  • Oleander
  • Oriental Lily (especially cats!)
  • Peach (wilting leaves and pits)
  • Plumosa Fern
  • Poison Ivy
  • Pothos
  • Primrose
  • Red Princess
  • Rhododendron
  • Saddle Leaf Philodendron
  • Satin Pothos
  • Silver Pothos
  • String of Pearls
  • Sweetheart Ivy
  • Taro Vine
  • Tomato Plant (green fruit, stem and leaves)
  • Weeping Fig
  • Amaryllis
  • Apple Leaf Croton
  • Arrow-Head Vine
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Baby's Breath
  • Branching Ivy
  • Buddhist Pine
  • Calla Lily
  • Ceriman
  • Cherry (seeds and wilting leaves)
  • Cineraria
  • Cordatum
  • Cornstalk Plant
  • Cuban Laurel
  • Cycads
  • Daffodil
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dragon Tree
  • Easter Lily (especially cats!)
  • Elephant Ears
  • English Ivy
  • Fiddle-leaf Fig
  • Foxglove
  • Geranium
  • Giant Dumb Cane
  • Gold Dust Dracaena
  • Hahn's Self-Branching Ivy
  • Hurricane Plant
  • Janet Craig Dracaena
  • Jerusalem Cherry
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Marble Queen
  • Mexican Breadfruit
  • Mistletoe
  • Mother-in-Law's Tongue
  • Needlepoint Ivy
  • Nightshade
  • Onion
  • Peace Lily
  • Pencil Cactus
  • Poinsettia (low toxicity)
  • Poison Oak
  • Precatory Bean
  • Red Emerald
  • Red-Margined Dracaena
  • Ribbon Plant
  • Sago Palm
  • Schefflera
  • Spotted Dumb Cane
  • Striped Dracaena
  • Swiss Cheese Plant
  • Tiger Lily (especially cats!)
  • Tree Philodendron
  • Tropic Snow Dieffenbachia
  • Yew

Home Safe Home For Cats

Even cats that spend most of their time indoors may be exposed to a number of potential hazards. The following list will help keep your home safe and sound for your cat.

  1. Be aware of the plants you have in your house and in your yard. The ingestion of a poisonous plant may be fatal.
  2. When cleaning your house, never allow your cat access to the area where cleaning agents are used or stored. Some may only cause a mild stomach upset, while others could cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth, and stomach and may even be fatal.
  3. When using rat or mouse baits, ant or roach traps, or snail and slug baits, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your cat. Most bait contains sweet-smelling, inert ingredients, such as jelly, peanut butter, and sugars, which can be very attractive to a cat.
  4. Never give your cat any medications unless under the directions of a veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly to a cat.
  5. Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of your cat, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain-killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human medications that could be potentially lethal, even in small dosages.
  6. Many common household items have been shown to be lethal in certain species. Miscellaneous items that are highly toxic even in low quantities include pennies (high concentration of zinc), mothballs (contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene — one or two balls can be life-threatening in most species), potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, automatic dish detergents (contain cationic detergents which could cause corrosive lesions), batteries (contain acids or alkali which can also cause corrosive lesions), homemade play dough (contains high quantity of salt), winter heat source agents like hand or foot warmers (contain high levels of iron), cigarettes, coffee grounds, and alcoholic drinks.
  7. All automotive products, such as oil, gasoline, and antifreeze, should be stored properly. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) can be deadly to a cat. Wash off any poisonous substance on your cat’s coat or skin before she licks it off and poisons herself. Use cat-safe soap and warm water or give her a complete bath.
  8. Before buying or using flea products on your cat or in your household, contact your veterinarian to discuss what types of flea products are recommended for her. Read ALL information before using a product on your cat or in your home. Always follow label instructions. Also, when using a fogger or a house spray, make sure to remove all pets from the area for the time period specified on the container. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer or your veterinarian to clarify the directions BEFORE using the product.
  9. When treating your lawn or garden with fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides, always keep your cat away from the area until the area dries completely. If in doubt, ask the manufacturer whether using the product may be harmful to your cat.
  10. Sharp objects such as knives and forks, paper clips, carpet tacks and pins should be kept out of a cat’s reach. Children’s toys and small objects may attract a playful cat and become lodged in her mouth or swallowed. Although kittens are sometimes pictured with a ball of yarn, if ingested, yarn as well as thread and twine could cause serious damage to the intestinal tract.
  11. Lead paint should be removed with extreme caution. Cleanup should be prompt and thorough. Other items containing lead accessible to cats include lead-base paint, linoleum, and caulking compounds. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, loss of appetite, loss of muscle coordination, blindness and seizures.
  12. Outside of the house, make sure your cat is clearly identified whether you use a collar and an identification tag or a more permanent form of identification like tattooing. 

A final thought

If you have children, many of the safety measures needed for pets are probably already in place.

Cat Life Stages

Here are some normal behaviors for each cat life stage:

Birth to 16 weeks

Just learning her way around, your kitten may be playful, but most likely shy. Click here for more information on how to care for your new kitten.

16 weeks to 1 year

Your kitten will likely still be very playful and spunky. At approximately six months old, you should spay or neuter if you are not planning to breed your cat.

1 to 8 years

Your young cat is in her prime. Remember your annual visits to the veterinarian.

8 to 12 years

Your pre-geriatric cat may begin to slow down, but her behavior shouldn’t change much.

12+ years

Your cat is entering old age. You may begin to notice some health problems. Your cat will move slower if her joints begin to stiffen. She may also become easily irritated.

Final Thought

In any health-related issue, whenever you have concerns about your cat, consult your veterinarian. He or she is familiar with your cat and her medical history and has the professional skill and knowledge to identify and treat whatever might be the problem.

Cat Grooming Tips

What are some tips for properly grooming my cat?

The following article is taken from the "Purina® Animal Instincts" Podcast Series. Learn more at

Cats are tidy animals, but even the most fastidious feline can use a mini spa treatment for good health. Brushing, bathing and claw clipping can help your cat look and feel her best.

To groom your pet, comb her gently from head to tail, being especially tender around the chest and belly. Use a soft brush to remove loose hair. If the coat is greasy or oily, a bath may be in order. If so, use a very mild, animal-safe shampoo and lukewarm water. Wear gloves, and go slowly.

Toenail clipping takes patience, too. Use a sharp nail scissor and clip just the very tip. With a little practice, these spa treatments can become part of a routine bonding ritual with your cat.

– Dr. Larry McDaniel, DVM

Basic Shots For Cats

All kittens need to be vaccinated according to the schedule provided by your veterinarian. Cat vaccines protect against feline leukemia, feline distemper, upper respiratory infections and rabies. Veterinarians usually recommend giving a young kitten a series of these vaccinations starting when the kitten is six to eight weeks old, and continuing every three to four weeks until the kitten is about four months old. Remember most vaccines must be given over a period of time and require multiple veterinary visits. So check with your veterinarian and get ready for a happy, rewarding friendship with your pet.

Below is a recommended vaccination schedule for your new kitten. Vaccination protocols will vary from state to state, so please consult your veterinarian.

Recommended Vaccination Schedule*

Disease Age At First Vaccination (weeks) Booster Vaccination Intervals (months following initial series)
Caliciviral Disease (upper respiratory) 6-8 12
Feline Leukemia 10 12 or 13 and 14*
Panleukopenia (feline distemper) 6-8 12
Pneumonitis (Chlamydiosis) 6-10 12
Rabies 12-16 12 or 36**
Viral Rhinotrachetis (upper respiratory) 8-10 12

*Vaccination protocols will vary. Consult with your veterinarian to discuss your cat’s vaccination needs.
**Depending on which type of vaccination your veterinarian recommends and local laws.

Older Cat Care

Maturing — Aging

How can you tell when your cat is getting old? On the outside, she may look much the same, and she probably still loves to bat her toy mouse around the kitchen floor and take naps sprawled across your hand-knitted heirloom afghan. But inside her body, time may be taking its toll.

However tempting it may be to treat her to table scraps, it's really not wise. Overfeeding a cat at any age -- especially with fatty foods -- is actually setting her up for obesity and related health problems in the future.

The Middle Years

You may barely have noticed the subtle changes your cat went through after the first year of her life, but when she approaches her equivalent of human middle age - somewhere between the ages of 8 and 12 - start paying extra attention. Your veterinarian may recommend that you modify your cat’s diet.

The Later Stages

Some veterinarians believe that cats reach their geriatric years around age 12. Other experts are more generous, categorizing cats as being “old” at about 15. When your cat is between the ages of 12 and 15, be on the lookout for behavioral changes. You may notice that she catnaps a lot more. It’s normal for some old cats to sleep more than 18 hours a day.

As a cat ages, her joints may stiffen and become difficult to move, making her lethargic about many types of activities, even her grooming ritual. But before you decide to do a thorough brushing for her, ask your veterinarian to make sure your cat’s not seriously ill -- a lack of desire to groom can also be a sign of sickness.

However tempting it may be to treat her to table scraps, it’s really not wise. Overfeeding a cat at any age -- especially with fatty foods -- is actually setting her up for obesity and related health problems in the future.

Above all, you’ll need to start watching your geriatric cat very closely for hints of illness. After weeks of seeming healthy, a cat suddenly may display signs of being very ill, catching you, the owner, off guard. Too often, pet owners hope a small problem will go away, only to seek their veterinarian’s advice when their cat is beyond help.

The best thing you can do is watch for signs and, if you spot anything amiss, visit your veterinarian.