• NOVA Cat Clinic

Holiday Tips 2019

Coffee Talk Is Back

Eating things they should notI feel like during this holiday season, particularly the one’s that coming up which is Turkey Liberation Day or Thanksgiving, however you want to call it, they’re the ones that get in the most trouble. But cats actually get in trouble during this Thanksgiving as well.Yeah. Because they like poultry and they like to eat bones. They like to swallow things.Yeah. They do.It’s not a good scene.I feel like when they all– it’s kind of like kitchen shock when people are cooking and stuff. And it’s more likely they dumpster dive, and they get into trouble that way. But as a veterinarian, what do you tend to see as the most common post-holiday emergency?

Safe the Emergency Room Trip

So I feel like, if I were in an emergency room, the most common thing would be dietary indiscretion, eating things you’re not supposed to, whether that be– people use a lot of raisins when they’re cooking, and dogs and cats shouldn’t have any raisins or grapes. I know whenever I cook, I like a lot of onions, and onions are very bad for both dogs and cats. So I feel like the ER season I worked when I was in vet school – it feels like so long ago now – we saw a lot of dietary indiscretion. And also, we had a couple dogs and one cat eat a bone.

Cat Stress

But I feel like a lot of times for cats, at least when we work here – it’d be the day after Thanksgiving – we have a lot of stress, secondary holiday stress, whether that’s cystitis or they have hematuria, urinating blood, or having just stress colitis, so diarrhea from stress, or sometimes just not eating, not feeling well, kind of a nondescript “I don’t feel well” cat from stress. That’s what I usually see. What do you think you see the most?

Change in routine

No. I mean, I agree with you because, I think, a lot of times during the holiday season, everybody gets a little– I wouldn’t call it lazy, but very lax when it comes to medicating their pets appropriately because you get out of that routine. And we all know that cats are very routine oriented. And then they go and they invite family members over because they want to host whatever holiday that they have. And if you know your cat is the kind of cat that gets stressed with guests over, you’re putting them in a position that it’s going to cause even further stress, and that starts this cascade of an illness.

Chronic disease flare ups

So what we tend to get in the day after is usually like, “Now my hypothyroid cat is having some problems,” or, “My cat that has heart disease is now having some significant problems.” And then you wind up finding out that they’ve been out of town or they had the pet sitter only coming once a day or the neighbor only coming once a day. So you know this pet’s not being medicated appropriately. And so now you wind up with even more expenses because the one complaint that we get is like, “Well, it’s the holidays, and now I’m not going to have any money for Christmas,” whatever. And it’s like at one moment, you’re like, “Yeah. I kind of feel bad about that.”

And then at another moment, it’s like, “Well, you should know that you have a responsibility.” I mean, come on, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. You have these problems here. And if you know that your pet does not respond well to stress around the holidays, why are you doing it to them anyway? If you know year after year you see the same pattern, why are we doing it all the time?

Holiday guilt

And you can’t have that feeling of guilt around your family, because you’re not doing something immoral or unethical or illegal. You’re sad that you can’t do this because your pet’s stressed. Well, go somewhere else. How hard can it be to make certain accommodations for your pets? And I think people would be a lot happier if they understood where their pets were coming from as well as understanding the dynamic of the household. So I think there’s a significant lack of that communication that happens with that human-animal bond, that all of a sudden, that bond of trust gets broken right around the holidays all the time. And we see a massive amount of euthanasias too because of stress and failure for disease management and all these other problems.

Holiday Stress and solutions

Well, and the other problem is, if we look at this from an integrative standpoint, anytime there’s a season shift, if you’re on the edge, you might not be able to handle the season shift. That’s just the course of disease and the course of life. It’s just what it is. And the season shifts in November-December. That’s how it happens. And so all these pets– especially the last two weeks, we’ve had here in Northern Virginia, the weather has changed dramatically in the last two weeks. It is now winter outside. It feels like winter finally. We went from the beginning of October – that was 90 degrees – and it was 30 degrees last week. A lot of pets, if they’re delicate, and a lot of people, if they’re delicate, this push will push them over the edge.

Stress making chronic conditions acute

So I think just it’s natural this time of year, where some of our sicker pets would have an issue anyway, and then adding on the stress of holidays and the change of schedule. The kids aren’t at school all day now. They’re home doing whatever, and the cat’s like, “Why are you here? Why are you in my space all day? I liked my time by myself?” Or maybe it’s, “Now there’s a lot of visitors during the day, like the kids are having friends over,” or, “You go on vacation, and I like seeing you every day, and now you’re not here.”

And that’s just normal parts of life. If you talk to your veterinarian before the season and you know you’re going to have 20 people over for Thanksgiving, or even 5, who aren’t the normal cat family, maybe it makes sense for us to help you give them something to make that easier. You just have to talk to your vet about it. We could do Zylkene. We could do FELIWAY. Depending on if it’s really an issue, we could even consider gabapentin. There’s lots of things. You just have to talk about it.

Environmental Changes

Right. And what kind of environmental changes that you can make to make the pet feel safer the entire time, especially at home? And I don’t think a lot of people understand that your veterinary doctor is a really good resource for finding all that out. That’s what we’re there for is that we actually want to help you create the perfect feline environment. And so we’re not just there to make sure your pet is healthy and give vaccines and clean teeth, etc. But they’re actually there for you to help with behavior modification and environment modifications because that’s all part of, I feel like, lifestyle wellness for cats.


Right. Think about it this way. I’ll use me as an example. We have a two-bedroom apartment. And whenever we used to have people stay with us before we had kids, they got the second room to sleep in. Well, my cat, Cosmo, didn’t really like most people. He liked five of us on a good day. So he would get really extra frustrated when the sun hit that bed perfectly during the day. That was his spot during the day. And all of a sudden, he has somebody he doesn’t like there. So he would get pretty mad. So it’s even just thinking like, “Oh, we’re having someone stay with us. Is that the cat’s favorite bedroom during the day? Okay. It is. What can we do to help with that?” Just thinking like that. It’s just a little twist.

Redirected Aggression

Right. And that’s a good point that you also brought up. And I liked the word that you used is frustrated because a lot of people will come back and think their cat actually does “redirected aggression” towards family members during this time of year.  They’re not aggressive. They’re fearful or frustrated, and this is the only way that they can communicate with you because the language is so different.

Questions and upcoming Podcast

Do we have any questions today?Totally. Because it’s been months. It’s been months.We’ve been busy. We’ve been working really hard on the podcast. It is coming. Be patient with us. We have run into some minor issues with that.Just little hiccups.So it is coming.It’s going to be awesome.It is coming.And if there’s something you want us to talk about on the podcast, let us know.We’ll try to do a couple of these in the next couple weeks just because we haven’t in a while.Right. So recap for Thanksgiving, watch what you have to eat in the house.Reminder, no garlic, no onions, no grapes, no raisins.Watch those candles. People like to have candles. Minimize the amount of stress in the household. If you can combat stress beforehand, that’s even better. But yeah, I mean, obviously, we’ll be here the day after Thanksgiving to help take care of your pet emergencies.It’ll be so much fun [laughter]. I feel the excitement already, don’t you?Right? I know.All right. Well, thanks for sharing this time with us. Don’t forget to visit our website at novacatclinic.com. And if we can answer any questions for you, just let us know. Bye. Thank you.

#catvet #holidays #vetnearme #holiday #cats #cat

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