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General nursing of cats

General nursing of catsSick, injured or recovering cats require peace and quiet, well away from bright lights, noises and excited children or animals. The best temperature is a pleasantly warm room temperature for people – additional warmth is obtained from blankets, well padded warm water bottles or warm packs, if needed. Food should be tempting and within easy reach. There should also be water and a litter tray nearby.Sick cats often have very poor appetites. They may reject their usual cat food and attempting to force them to eat is pointless. Try any of the following, which often seem palatable to poorly cats.• Tinned fish, especially sardines in tomato sauce.• Smoked ham.• Prawns.• Cooked chicken or fish.• Special convalescence foods obtainable from veterinary practices.Warming the food helps release aromas which will tempt the appetite.Cats need to be checked on, unobtrusively, every hour or so, and it can be helpful if you note down some basic medical observations about them, such as:• Number of times vomited or diarrhoea passed.• When normal faeces and urine are passed.• Amount eaten and drunk.• Breathing rate at rest, and whether this appears normal (see Breathing problems).• Overall demeanour and responsiveness.• Any other symptoms you see.Sick cats often appreciate attention, stroking, gentle grooming and bathing of the mouth, eyes and nose with water and cotton wool. This frequently seems to improve their demeanour significantly, and many cats will eat during or after this treatment. It is an important psychological stimulation and is all part of good nursing.Administration of medicationIt is important that your cat receives any medication supplied by your vet according to the treatment instructions given. This will usually be written clearly on the packaging of the product or the tablet bottle label, but if in doubt ask for clarification as some dosing patterns can seem quite complicated at first. Make sure you know exactly what you are to do, and when.If there are anticipated problems, e.g. an elderly or infirm owner, difficulties with the dosing schedule owing to work patterns, or any other such problems, discuss these with the veterinary staff in advance. Other treatment options such as long-acting injections, a different type of tablet or even a period of hospitalisation, may be better. Usually, a satisfactory compromise can be reached which will suit both owner and cat.Ensure all medication is stored correctly, well out of the reach of children or other animals. Some products, once opened, must be kept in the fridge and the use of disposable gloves when handling animal medicines is a good habit.Missed dosesWith certain drugs, a missed dose is ignored and the next dose is given at the time it would normally be due. With other products, a missed dose is corrected by giving another dose as soon as possible after you realise you have missed one; and with yet other drugs, a missed dose may be corrected by giving a double dose at the next dosing time. Always check with your vet as to what action to take, and never give double doses unless specifically instructed to as this could be potentially dangerous with certain drugs. When no advice is easily available, the safest course of action is generally the first: simply give the next dose when it is due.

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