Wednesday, January 2, 2013

5 ways to help very sick kitty

Eamon the cat sleeping on top of the heating vent
Eamon blocking the heating vent with his body.
Sadly, I think I know more about sick-cat nursing than anyone else on the entire planet. Eamon has been sick so many times in his 11+ years that it seems like I am always trying something new to keep his heart beating for another day. While I can't say that I'm an expert at babying all sick cats, these are a few things I've found helpful in assisting my own kitty when he's a little under the weather.

1. Crank up the heat. 

Sick cats can't seem to get enough of heat sources, but my cat won't hang out in his bed when he's sick. Using heating pads or heating disks is worthless when the cat avoids the beds like the plague. Heating up the house seems like a better option, as it allows the cat to choose where he'd like to recuperate.

2. Swap out the water. 

Cats need a LOT of water to stay healthy, and a lot of cats are really picky about the water they'll deign to slip into their mouths. When Eamon is under the weather, I try to help by changing his water daily (instead of following my usual twice-weekly routine).

3. Warm up the food. 

Cats seem to prefer wet food that's a little bit stinky, and warming up wet food in the microwave is a great way to up the stink factor. Use caution, however, as food that's heated too much can become too hot for a cat to snack on. A few seconds is really all it takes.

4. Avoid incessant checking. 

When Eamon is sick, I am tempted to poke and prod at him all of the time, just to make sure he's still alive and well. However, the more I poke at him, the more he becomes nervous and unable to relax. I strive for drive-by checks, where I get a visual on him but keep my hands to myself. This seems to be an okay middle ground for us.

5. Call with questions. 

Hopping on the Internet to diagnose a cat illness is never a good idea. I always emerge from these research sessions feeling much more upset than I was before I turned on the computer. Veterinarians are the best source for health information, and if the cat is punky, a call is in order.