Taking Your Cat’s Temperature – Learn How

There are things every cat owner should know how to do in case of an emergency, or if you are concerned about your cat’s health. This is one of those things. You should know how to take your cat’s temperature.

Body temperature is a helpful vital sign to help determine your cat’s health. And taking your cat’s temperature is fairly simple.

Cats are so private by nature that some cat owners don’t know or recognize the anatomy. Let me show you. Go to this article and look at the photo of the rectum vs. where the genitalia are located. It will also tell you how to take a cat’s temperature step by step. It is also a good article to print and keep around in case of an emergency.

Go to How to take your cat’s temperature.

A normal rectal temperature in a cat is roughly 100 to 102 degrees F.

I hope this helps. If you have any concerns about your cats healthy and if he or she has a fever, please see your veterinarian.

Plan Now – Should You Board Your Cat or Get a Sitter?


Plan Now – Should You Board Your Cat or Get a Sitter?

For some – you may be taking a holiday and others a well deserved vacation and you are trying to decide if you should board your cat or get a pet sitter.

I have everything you need to know to make a decision and have a smooth transition.
One common mistake cat owners make is leaving decisions about their pet’s care until the last minute. It’s such a busy time that you don’t want to forget about your cat’s needs until the last minute.

For example, lots of people have to make an emergency trip to the store for more cat food on the eve before leaving. Even more forget to book a kennel or cat sitter until it is too late. If you have any travel plans, now is the time to think about what you want to do.

A common question that cat lovers ask their veterinarians is, “Should I board my cat or get a pet sitter?” Well, today I want to share my thoughts on the subject. Go to: The Pros and Cons of Kenneling (Boarding) vs. Getting a Pet Sitter for Your Cat

Hopefully this will help make the decision a little easier. The best thing to do is to read as much as possible and get a lot of information so you know you made the right choice. There’s a lot that goes into picking the right option. For example, do you know how to select a good pet sitter?

The following articles tell you how to do that and much, much more. Check them out:

10 Things You Should Do Before You Board Your Cat!

Pet Sitter Instructions for Your Cat– This is very good to fill out and leave with the pet sitter. It helps them understand your cat’s needs and what to do if there are problems or emergencies.

For the Kennel or Boarding Facility – Instructions to Care for Your Cat– I recommend printing this and taking it with you to the kennel.

Kenneling Your Cat

Remember to plan early as many businesses book up quickly. If you cannot find a trustworthy kennel or sitter, consider expanding your search. An extra drive is worth the knowledge that your cat will be safe and sound while you are gone.

Another really common question pet owners ask is, “Should my pet be sedated at the kennel or while traveling?” I have a very good article for you about this topic. Go to: Pros & Cons of Sedation for Your Cat.


Cats Are Like Potato Chips – You Can Never Have Just One!

“Cats are like potato chips – you can never have just one!”

Someone just told me this. I thought it was cute and for her, it was actually quite true. The woman who said this had just adopted her fifth cat. She found him by the roadside and took him in.

Once you have one adorable kitty, it is very easy to get a second, a third and even a fourth or even fifth.

Based on national averages, the American household has 1.4 dogs and 2.1 cats. So most people have 1 dog and 2 cats. (See, it IS hard to have just one!)

Have you ever wondered about the pros and cons between owning dogs vs. cats? If so, this is a great article. Go to: Dog vs. Cats – which is right for you?

How many cats are too many? People ask me this all the time. To learn the answer to this common question, here is a good article. Go to: How Many Cats Are Too Many?

What should you do if you find a cat? This article will tell you. Go to: The Cat Chose Me … So Now What Do I Do?

Or better yet, How to Turn a Stray Cat Into a Pet

“Should I get another cat?” Maybe you are asking yourself this question right now. I have the perfect article for you. Go to: Should I Get Another Cat?

If you do have lots of cats, make sure that you have plenty of litter boxes. The rule of thumb is one litter box for every cat, plus one. So, if you have 3 cats, ideally you should have 4 litter boxes to give your cats every opportunity to use the litter box (not the floor) and to minimize behavioral problems.

Which Heartworm Treatment Protocol is Best for My Dog?

Hi – I would like to know which treatment Dr. Debra suggests for stage 2 heartworms in a dog. One vet has recommended starting with Doxycycline for 30 days, then 3 shots, each a month apart of Immiticide . Another vet I use suggested Doxycycline for 6 to 12 months as it is less harmful to the dog.

Michelle P

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for your question on treatment protocols for heartworm disease in dogs using Doxycycline

I've talked to a few cardiologists about the best protocol for treating heartworm disease in dogs and based on those conversations, I generally do the following:

Doxycycline for a month then a split protocol of injectable Immiditicide®. This includes one injection, followed one month later by two consecutive injections one day apart, for a total of three injections.

So the protocol works out to be:

Day 1 – 30 – Doxycycline daily
Day 31 – first injection of Immiditicide®
Day 60 – second injection of Immiditicide®
Day 61 – third injection of Immiditicide®

This split protocol allows for slower death of the heartworms, which may cause fewer complications in dogs with more severe infections.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of heartworm disease in dogs – go to Heartworm Disease in Dogs.

This has worked really well for us.

Best of luck.

Dr. Debra

P.S. The cost and availability of Doxycycline has been an issue therefore many veterinarians are using Minocycline as a substitute for Doxycycline. Very similar drug but lower cost and better availability.



What is the Difference between Prednisone and Prednisolone for Cats and Dogs?

Dr. Debra,

My cat was given Prednisolone but my vet verbally said they were going to start Prednisone. What is the difference? Which is better for my cat? Is there a difference using Prednisolone vs. Prednisone? Is the dose the same?

Thanks for your help.

Barbara K., Atlanta, GA

Dear Barbara,

Thanks for your question. Prednisone and Prednisolone are corticosteroid drugs commonly used to treat allergies, inflammations, autoimmune diseases and cancers.

Prednisone is converted to prednisolone readily in dogs but not as well in some cats, therefore Prednisolone is preferred in cats when possible. Prednisolone is the active form of the drug used by the body.

When Prednisone is used instead of Prednisolone, sometimes a slightly higher dose is used in cats.

For more information on this drug and dosages, visit our drug library article Prednisone and Prednisolone for Dogs and Cats.

Best of Luck,

Dr. Debra


How Long Can a Pet Be Overdue for a Rabies Vaccine and Still Be Protected?

Dr. Debra,

My dog Lily is overdue for her rabies vaccine. She was due last December and I just didn’t get around to her re-vaccinated. (It’s June now.) She was recently bitten by some outdoor animal (not sure what).

How long is my dog protected for rabies when she is overdue for her vaccine?

Betty H., Chicago, IL.

Hi Betty,

It is important to keep your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccines. Over 6,000 known rabies cases involving wildlife occur in the U.S. each year; of these, a number involve dogs or cats being exposed.

In most areas of the United States, it is required by law to have dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies. That’s because if your pet bites someone or has a rabies exposure and is not vaccinated (or is late on their vaccination), your pet could require a quarantine or even be euthanized in some circumstances.

To answer your question, how long is your dog protected from rabies when they’re overdue for a rabies vaccine?

Well…legally speaking, when your pet is overdue, they are not protected and are considered unvaccinated. However, in a medical sense, most vaccinated dogs and cats still have some protection. How strong this protection is and long this protection lasts depends on the individual pet. Every animal is different, it appears that some dogs and cats may have protection for months or even years beyond their due date.

A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) looked at how pets that were overdue responded to vaccination. Their findings indicated that “rabies boosters in dogs and cats that were late for their vaccinations were just as effective as boosters in dogs and cats that were up-to-date on their vaccinations.”

In summary, we don’t have a universal answer for how long a dog or cat is protected when they are overdue for any vaccine. Based on the law in your state, I’d follow your vet’s recommendations and keep all of your pets’ vaccines up-to-date. If you are worried about the negative consequences of vaccines, you could get titers for the other vaccines to determine whether your pet is protected or needs a booster. For more information and to learn more, go to Vaccine Titers in Dogs.

I hope this information helps. If your dog is overdue on anything, I’d recommend boostering his vaccine as soon as possible.

Dr. Debra


What’s the Difference between the Cranial Cruciate Ligament and the Anterior Cruciate Ligament?

Dr. Debra,

My dog has been limping on his right rear leg all weekend. It started Saturday after he was running in the yard. I took him to the vet, who said that my dog's knee was swollen and that he had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). I've been doing some reading and the only information I can see is on the cranial cruciate ligament.

Are they the same? What's the difference between the cranial cruciate ligament and the anterior cruciate ligament in dogs?

Virginia B., Jefferson City, MO

Hi Virginia,

Thanks for your excellent question. I'm sorry to hear about your dog's knee problem; I hope he is doing okay now.

To answer your question, the cranial cruciate ligament and the anterior cruciate ligament refer to the same body part, and the terms are used interchangeably.

There are two cruciate ligaments in the canine knee: the cranial (anterior or front) and the caudal (posterior or back). They are located in the knee joint and work to form an “X” pattern that connects the femur (upper leg bone) with the tibia (the biggest of the two lower leg bones). The function of the ACL is to stabilize the tibia and prevent twisting and over-extension of the joint.
The anterior (cranial) cruciate ligament is often abbreviated and referred to by the letters “CCL” or “ACL.” When human injuries are involved, people tend to use “ACL” more frequently; you often hear the term in reference to injuries to athletes such as football players.

A cruciate ligament tear, also called a cruciate ligament rupture, is a rip or tear of one of these two important pieces of tissue. The tear can be complete or partial and can occur in one or both knees. Tears in the ACL/CCL are the most common ligament injury in dogs, and it most often occurs to larger breed dogs. For more information, go to our Petplace.com article “Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs” and read about the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.
I hope this article helps you understand more about cruciate injuries in dogs. Best of luck with your pup.


Dr. Debra




How Much Food Or Formula Should You Give a One-Day-Old Kitten?

Hi Dr. Debra,

We just found an orphaned 1-day-old kitten. It's a sad story; the feral mom had problems giving birth and kittens came out but their “cords” were in a knot. The vet said that one of the kittens was still inside and stillborn, so he operated on and spayed the mom. But then 24 hours later, the vet tech was throwing away the garbage and heard the kitten crying in the trashcan…it was still alive and had worked its way out of the sack. I am pretty sure it won't make it.

We tried calling a couple of vet clinics for advice and no one would talk to us. I've tube fed a lot of kittens and just wanted to know how much to feed. No one was comfortable telling us. Can you help? How much do you feed a one-day-old kitten?

Christine – NYC, NY

Hi Christine,

It is wonderful of you to help this kitten, and I'll do my best to help you. This kitten is probably weak, dehydrated, and cold. The ideal would be to take it to a vet for medical care as soon as possible. If you can't do that (and really, it's the absolute best thing), I guess you just need to do the best you can. I'll give you the best advice I can to help you care for this kitten without being able to see it myself.

In answer to your question on how much you feed a one-day-old kitten, the recommended daily feeding amount is based upon weight and age. Most milk replacement products contain 1 kcal/ml. This amount of milk should be divided into at least 4 feedings per day, and at one day of age, I'd recommend 6 to 8 feedings.

Here are some general guidelines based on body weight and amounts:

  • Week 1: 13 to 15 ml per 100 g body weight
  • Week 2: 15 to 18 ml per 100 g body weight
  • Week 3: 20 ml per 100 g body weight
  • Week 4: 20 ml per 100 g body weight and also eating mostly solid food

By the way, 100 grams is 3.5 oz., if it makes the calculations any easier.

If the kitten weighs 2 ounces (57 grams), you'd be giving a total of almost 8 mL of fluid per day. Divide this into 6 feedings, and each would be about 1.3 ml. I'd start slow with 1 ml if the kitten's body temperature is over 99 degrees; you can always go up in quantity and down in frequency. For example, on day one you might give approximately 1 ml every 4 hours. If a few days down the road things are going OK, you could try to cut back to 4 times a day. If, on the other hand, the kitten weighed the same and therefore still required about 8 mL of formula, you'd be giving 2 ml every 6 hours.

It is important that the kitten be warm. If you feed a kitten with a low body temperature (hypothermia), they can't digest the milk and you can actually do more harm than good. If possible, take your kitten's temperature every few hours. Use a digital thermometer; I get an inexpensive one with a flexible tip from the local pharmacy, label it as the cat's, and place it in the first aid box.

Providing heat support is so important because a kitten this age can't regulate its own body temperature. If you have a spare shoebox, line the box with a thick towel and provide heat support such as a pet-safe heating pad or hot water bottle under half of the box so the kitten can stay on it or crawl off if they need to cool down.

Here are some really good resources for you that will help, too:

Caring for an Orphaned Kitten  – This article has some great tips on feeding and care. 

How Do You Tube Feed a Kitten? - Learn the best way to use this technique that could save a kitten's life. 

Caring for a Sick Kitten -  Even though your kitten may not be sick, it never hurts to have these great care guidelines on what they need. 

My dog just ate a loaf of bread and some rolls – what should I do?


Our question this week was:

My dog just stole a loaf of bread and some rolls from pantry and ate them all — should I give him anything to aid in digestion?

Carla Sochacki


Hi – thanks for your email Carla. You wrote that your dog just ate a loaf of baked bread and some rolls. A few things come to mind. First of all – you probably want to know is bread toxic?

Baked bread is not toxic, however – some dogs can get a very distended abdomen and become very unconformable. Some dogs will actually develop Gluttony Bloat from over eating. Sometimes, dogs will require treatment with drugs that induce vomiting.

Unbaked bread can be more dangerous as the yeast rising can cause problems in some dogs.

The second concern I have is did your dog just eat the bread or did he also eat the wrapper? Ingestion of the wrapper can cause a foreign body obstruction in dogs (they can’t pass it which could cause major problems that may require surgery).

I’d recommend that you call your vet – tell them how much your dog weights, when he ate it, if he ate the wrapper and how much he ate. They can guide you on if you should worry. For example – if the ingestion was recent (within 2 hours) and he ate the wrapper – they may have you induce vomiting at home to get it out of his stomach.

Otherwise – if he just ate tons of bread, there is nothing you can do to aid his digestion. He may just need more time. Make sure that he eats, drinks and acts normally. If you have concerns, call your vet. Some dogs will vomit after over eating so he may solve the problem for you.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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The Secret to Happiness in Multi-Pet Homes


The Secret to Happiness in Multi-Pet Homes

Most American pet households have more than one pet. For homes with cats, the average number is two.

So, if you have more than one cat, how do you get them to get along?

It is important to understand why cats might not get along and take the necessary steps to help solve the problem.

One of the most common reasons cats go to their veterinarians for emergency appointments is because of a bite wound. Sometimes the bites are from “outside” cats (most often) – but many times they are from cats within the family.

By the way, for more information on bite wounds, go to: Bite Wounds in Cats.

As a cat parent, it is very important to understand aggression. I have a couple of really good articles on aggression that I’d like to share with you today. These could be really important, especially if you have more than one cat. Even if the cats get along – you should still read this.

How to Keep Your Dog and Cat From Feuding

Inter-Cat Aggression (very good article!)

I hope these articles help keep the peace for your kitties.

By the way – one more tip – Have you ever wonder how many cats are too many? Find out. Go to: How Many Cats Are Too Many?.