1500 East Boston Post Road Mamaroneck, NY 10543

Judith S. Johnessee, MS, DVM
Diplomate, American College of
Veterinary International Medicine

Special Feline Health Care Topics


Cats which are kept healthy and free of parasites present few public health problems. However one is of special concern -- Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a disease which may be acquired by the cat by hunting, eating raw meat, or very rarely, by eating contaminated cat food. The eggs of this parasite are passed in the cat's stool and if the eggs are accidentally swallowed by a person, a vague generalized chronic illness may result. Most important, if the eggs are swallowed by a pregnant woman who does not have immunity to this parasite, serious birth defects can result in the unborn baby. However, this problem can be averted if the litter box is changed daily since it takes two days for the eggs to populate and become infective to people.

In summary, it is recommended that you:

1. Do not feed your cat raw meat.

2. Wear rubber gloves while gardening if neighborhood cats use your garden as a litter box.

3. Change cat litter daily.

If these suggestions are followed, a healthy cat poses no threat even to a pregnant woman.

String and thread:

Cats seem especially fond of playing with and chewing on string or thread. Many cats will actually swallow a needle and thread. Surprisingly, it is not the needle that is so much of a problem as the thread. As the intestines try to move the thread along, it can rub holes in the intestine, causing severe infection of the abdominal cavity. This problem must be handled by surgical removal of the thread. Never allow your cat to chew on string or thread. Be careful with sewing supplies, string wrapped around meat roasts, popcorn garlands, and tinsel at Christmas.


Cats have a different metabolism than people for many drugs, so be sure to check with the doctor before giving any over-the-counter medications. For instance, cats are highly sensitive to almost all pain medications. and two aspirin or one tylenol can be a lethal overdose.

Open Windows (High Rise Syndrome):

If you live in an apartment or multiple story dwelling, be sure that all open windows are covered by firmly anchored screens. Every spring and fall, many cats fall from open windows and sustain severe internal injuries and broken bones because they could not tell the difference between an open window and a clear pans of glass. Cats are extremely sensitive to all insecticides, most solvents, and petroleum compounds. Poisonings due to these chemicals are common because cats can lick or absorb these substances from their pads after walking through the chemical. Always keep these and all household cleaners safely locked away and never use turpentine, nail polish remover, benzene or an other solvent to remove paint or tar from your cat.

Back to animal pet care.