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Cat Health

Pet First Aid Mobile Application

Remember the day your cocker spaniel drank half a gallon of dish detergent? Or the time your Maine Coon cat started choking on a Lego? Not knowing what to do during a pet emergency can be scary. And it’s not exactly like the little guy can tell you, “Don’t worry. That raspberry torte I got into isn’t actually lethal.” That’s why we’re immediately installing Pet First Aid ($2), a new app from the American Red Cross. Upon downloading, you can easily toggle between the cat and dog sections (sorry, guinea pig owners) and then look up common emergencies and proper care. Say you think your dog might have a beesting. Head to the “allergic reactions” section to learn about and see pictures of sting and bite symptoms (swelling around the eyes, bumps on the face). Then tap for authoritative to-dos (don’t try to remove the stinger; call your vet if the hives progress).

The app includes handy tutorials on administering medications and taking a pet’s vitals (we found the “how to determine dehydration” entry particularly useful) and a super-helpful section for locating pet-friendly hotels.
After all, isn’t the greatest emergency a Holiday Inn that won’t accept your four Siamese kittens?

Download the app here.


Fleas prefer to live on and bite your pets as opposed to you; they tend to bite people and then jump off again. Adult female fleas feed on your cat’s blood and their eggs fall into the environment. After a variable incubation period, those fleas hatch and jump back onto your cat, or dog. Fleas can quickly cause an infestation in your house. Besides being uncomfortable, fleas can carry a blood parasite called Babesia. This disease or simply the presence of numerous fleas can cause anemia or a low red blood cell count. Fleas can also carry tapeworm eggs that infect the intestinal tract when ingested. At the shelter, each animal receives a dose of Revolution to kill fleas.


Ringworm is not a worm, but a fungus. The fungus can be found anywhere in the environment, even in soil. Ringworm can be contagious to some people and to other animals. In people, the skin lesions are very itchy and usually are circular, about 1/2 inch in diameter. In cats, ringworm is not itchy and does not have a typical pattern. There is usually crusting of the skin with variable amounts of hair loss. For this reason, a ringworm culture should be taken to positively identify the problem. Only a few hairs are needed for the culture that takes 10 days to incubate. Treatment should be started if ringworm is suspected since the fungus is contagious. Treatment options could include miconazole liquid, nolvasan shampoo, program, lyme sulfur dips or an oral medication called griseofulvin. The environment your pet lives in should also be disinfected. Your veterinarian can recommend the best treatment for your pet.

Sarcoptic Mange (sarcops or scabies) 

Sarcops mites are microscopic and burrow just under the skin. The mite causes severe crusting and is very itchy. Although the mite can burrow anywhere on the body, it populates mostly around the head and ears. Sarcops is diagnosed with a skin scrape that is examined under the microscope. Special dips and injections kill this mite that is contagious to other animals and people, but does not infect the environment. In people, the mite causes severe itching and tiny red bumps.

Miliary Dermatitis

Miliary dermatitis is a fancy term for tiny red bumps on the skin. Bumps can be all over the body or concentrated in one area, such as around the neck. Miliary dermatitis is caused by inhalant or food allergies which are extremely difficult to diagnose in cats. Diagnosis is often by process of elimination. Treatment options include eliminating potential causes like new bedding, antihistamines, special shampoos or food, or in severe cases, steroids.

Skin Cancer

Any new lumps or bumps on your cat should be evaluated by your veterinarian. While most skin bumps are benign or not cancerous, your vet may recommend a biopsy to diagnose the type of tumor. Tumors to worry about include those that feel attached to underlying tissue and those with irregular or large margins.

Immune Mediated Problems

Plaque-like lesions can occur on cats’ lips most commonly but can be seen on other areas of the body. This problem is called Eosinophilic Granulomatous Complex and is thought to be an immune-mediated problem with underlying allergies. These lesions need to be biopsied to correctly identify them and treatment includes serial steriod shots. The lesions can resolve completely and then recur in the future.
Since many skin problems can mimic each other, examination and diagnostics should be done by your veterinarian.