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When it comes to providing adequate cat and kitten care, pet parents need to have more than just a bed, food, and a handful of toys on hand. Just like their parents, cats experience accidents, injuries, and illness, so it only makes sense that they get a cat medicine cabinet full of essentials for themselves. But they don’t need Band-Aids and bottles of Tylenol — instead, they need these nine essentials.
Although cats’ temperatures normally run higher than a human’s (typically between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees), when a cat experiences a fever, organ damage can result. The only way to accurately assess a cat’s internal temperature is by using a thermometer. A rectal thermometer with a digital read-out provides the fastest, most-precise temperature reading . There are cat-specific products on the market, but rectal thermometers meant for humans work just as well — just make sure that it’s labeled and stored separately.
Styptic powder — commonly known by the brand name Kwik Stop — is an antiseptic clotting agent that effectively stops minor bleeding in its tracks. In addition to powders, there are also styptic pens, liquids, and gels on the market, each with the same key ingredients and effect. If, for instance, a cat has its claws cut too short, or receives a superficial scratch, and starts bleeding, a pinch of styptic powder can be applied to the area. However, this product shouldn’t be used on deep wounds, body cavities, or burns.
Also called an Elizabethan collar, Buster collar, E-collar, or the “cone of shame,” cones prevent cats from licking or chewing certain areas of their body. The device is commonly used after eye surgery, stitches, or a facial lesion, as cats like to scratch these wounds. They’re also used when a cat grooms an area to the point of self-mutilation.
It’s important to make sure the cat is kept indoors while wearing the cone and is able to enter and exit their litter box. Because cones cause cats stress, they should only be used only when necessary. That said, there will likely come a day when it has to be whipped out, so it’s wise to have one on hand ahead of time.
Keeping extra leashes and one or more cat carriers around is a smart move. In the car, carriers keep cats from escaping when spooked by other animals or loud noises. They’re also used to transport cats from the home to cat training classes, the groomer’s, or the vet.
Keeping and updating rabies tags is crucial to a cat’s health, and it’s required by law in most US states. The rabies vaccine gives cats immunity if they’ve been bitten by or otherwise exposed to an infected animal. A rabies tag documents their immunity, and when a cat has received the vaccine.
The National Association of Public Health Veterinarians recommends that pet parents choose a tag in the shape that matches the year their cat received the dose. The recent tags are:
2020: Red heart
2019: Green bell
2018: Orange oval
2017: Blue rosette
2016: Red heart
When it comes to choosing a catch-all cat supplement or medicine, every pet parent should keep a bottle of hydrocortisone cream in their cabinet.
Hydrocortisone is a topical steroid that is used on humans and animals to treat inflammation, insect bites, and itchiness. It can come in many forms, like creams, wipes, and shampoo, so storage and application instructions will vary. Alternative products that work in a similar way include itch relief spray and medicated mousse. To prevent their cat from ingesting anything applied topically, pet parents should use a cone and check in with a veterinarian prior to use.
Compiling an emergency cat first aid kit is a sure-fire way for pet parents to prepare for future accidents. Every kit should include the following:
A pillowcase - to help minimize a cat’s movement in case of an emergency
A small knife
A printed photograph of the cat - for identification in case of an emergency
Emergency phone numbers
The cat’s medical records
A water bottle
Vet-recommended cat healthcare bundles and cat subscription boxes that offer curated cat health care products may save pet parents time and money while putting together their kits.
Although pet parents can’t know precisely when an emergency might occur, they can take measures to prepare should one arise. A simple, but important, step is writing down the contact information of their cat’s in-person or online vet, a nearby emergency veterinary hospital, and poison control. These numbers should also get saved as contacts in a phone for easy access.
Pet insurance protects pet parents against any unexpected invoices that may come their way. Although many opt to pay out-of-pocket for their cat health care, most Americans would struggle if faced with a $1,500 emergency vet bill. Fortunately, there are plenty of pet insurance companies and plans to choose from. Pet parents should ensure all of the proper documentation is stored in a safe place that’s easily accessible if the time comes.
Every cat — and every pet parent, for that matter — deserves to live a healthy, safe, and gratifying life. A cat medicine cabinet is a great way to ensure that cats get the attention they need, when they need it.