Pet Insurance Blog

Monday September 14, 2015

What You Need to Know About Cat Deafness

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Cat deafness can be present at birth, present itself gradually or be the very sudden result of an illness or accident. It also does not solely manifest as total hearing loss, sometimes only one ear is affected or only partial hearing is lost.


Temporary hearing loss can be caused by a mild infection or from side effects of certain drugs, like amino-glycoside antibiotics or diuretics. Ear mites are another common cause of temporary hearing loss, as well as tumors or polyps.

Permanent deafness can be caused by a variety of factors, including old age, continued exposure to loud noises, injury or severe, untreated ear infections.

Additionally, all-white, blue-eyed cats are born deaf.


Regularly monitoring and cleaning a cat’s ears can help prevent infections. If your cat does start to exhibit any of the following signs, however, a visit to the veterinarian may be in order.

• Persistent scratching and pawing of the ear area
• Sensitivity to touch
• Head tilting or shaking
• Loss of balance and disorientation
• Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal
• Unpleasant odor
• Black or yellowish discharge
• Accumulation of dark brown wax
• Hearing loss
• Bleeding


A licensed veterinarian should be consulted if your cat is exhibiting signs of an ear problem. They will examine your feline friend for infections, mites, inflammation or injury.

A common test used to evaluate hearing is the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response). Small electrodes are placed under the skin during the procedure to measure electrical activity in the ear and brain. The test is not painful, and your veterinarian may suggest a referral to a veterinary neurologist to have it performed.

Treatment & Prevention

A veterinarian might recommend regular cleanings and medication for a mild infection or ear mites. But, permanent hearing loss cannot be reversed. Luckily, cats are extremely adaptable and can utilize their other senses to maintain a high quality of life.

Regular cleanings are a great way to prevent ear problems in addition to being an effective treatment. It is also important to remember never to use over-the-counter medication or insert a cotton swab into your cat’s ear canal without a veterinarian’s prior instruction.

Have a dog at home too? Learn how to prevent and treat dog deafness.

Information courtesy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®).

Monday August 31, 2015

5 Ways to Keep Cats Happy

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Happy cat, happy life… or something like that.

Regardless, cat parents know that a happy cat is less likely to exhibit destructive behaviors and is more likely to live a long, healthy life. Emotional health is just as important to our feline friends as it is to humans.

We’ve compiled a list of ways cat parents can keep their cats happy, in addition to lots of love and cuddles.

1. Regular Veterinary Visits

Annual checkups are very important for cats, who are well-known for hiding symptoms. These clues can also help you tell if you should take your cat to the veterinarian for an exam.

2. Well-Balanced Diet

Cats should be fed an appropriate amount of food that matches their size and energy output. It is OK to pamper your cat with a special treat now and again, like one of these homemade snacks.

3. Stimulating Environment

Mental stimulation and physical exercise are key components to pets living happy, healthy lives. Cat parents can encourage activities such as bird watching or paper bag exploration in addition to providing ample toys.

4. Sleeping Accommodations

Cats sleep 70% of their lives, so having a variety of slumber spots can be important. Prime locations features the most sunlight and heat available, such as window sills, a warm bed or next to a fireplace.

5. Feline Friendship

Though they may seem aloof at times, cats love socializing—especially with other cats. Adopting a second pet can seem a bit daunting, but these tips will help make the introductions go smoothly.

Share a photo of your happy cat with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Tips courtesy of the ASPCA®.

Monday June 15, 2015

5 Clues to Detect Cat Illnesses


It can be hard to tell if a cat is sick since our notoriously independent friends may mask or hide their symptoms. These clues can help you tell if you should take your cat to the veterinarian.

Clue #1: Messy Coat

Some cats stop grooming when they don’t feel well and may have a dull or oily coat. Over-grooming can also be a sign of anxiety or illness causing bald patches and red, irritated skin.

Clue #2: Weight

Change Cats who start turning their nose up at their food bowls may be sick. Sudden weight gain can also be a sign that something is up. What looks like extra pounds could actually be abdominal swelling. 

Clue #3: Eye and Ear Issues

A cat’s eyes and ears can reveal a health issue. The eyes should be bright and clear with no cloudy film, and the ears shouldn’t show any signs of discharge or inflammation.

Clue #4: Mouth Trouble

Do you cringe at your cat’s breath? That could be a sign of a problem. Very stinky breath or discolored gums can be a symptom of gingivitis or tooth decay, which can lead to infection.

Clue #5: Behavioral Problems

If your typically social kitty has suddenly become shy and irritable, you may have a sick feline on your hands. Litter box issues can also point to a problem, like a bladder infection or blockage.

If you detect any signs of sickness in your cat, be sure to call your veterinarian. Need to find a veterinarian for your cat? Our Vet Clinic Finder can help you locate one in your area. Also, if your cat isn’t covered, you can learn more about our plans.

Monday February 23, 2015

How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth


Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth might seem like a daunting task at first, but you'll both get used to it with a little time and patience. These tips can help:

  1. Pick a time when your pet is calm, for instance, after a long walk or an energetic game. It would be a good idea to get your pet accustomed to having his muzzle and mouth handled gradually before leaping into a full teeth cleaning.
  2. Go slow and stop if your pet starts to get upset, even if you haven’t finished brushing. You want to make sure your pet is comfortable during the whole session. You may want to contact a qualified professional if your pet shows signs of fear or aggression at any time during the brushing.
  3. Choose a quiet area and speak in a calm, soothing voice as you brush to help your pet relax and enjoy the experience. If you want to leash your pet during the session to limit his movement, keep the leash short (about 3 ft.) Also, make sure there’s enough slack so that your pet can sit or lie down easily.

Don’t forget to give your pet treats throughout the process and maybe even a new pet-safe dental chew toy at the end! Rewards will help your dog or cat associate good things with getting his teeth brushed.

Monday February 23, 2015

3 Pet Dental Health Myths Debunked


In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, we’re debunking 3 common myths about pets and their pearly whites.

Myth 1: Pets are supposed to have bad breath.
While most dogs and cats don't have pleasant breath, very foul breath can indicate a health issue like digestive problems or a gum condition such as gingivitis. If you spot any sign of gum inflammation, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended.

Myth 2: You can use human toothpaste for pets.
People paste usually contains fluoride, which can be toxic for pets. Only use paste made for pets. Pet toothpaste even comes in a variety of flavors, like liver, mint, chicken and peanut butter, so you can experiment with a few flavors to find out which one your pet prefers!

Myth 3: Real bones are good for your pet's teeth.
Real bones can fracture teeth or splinter and cause injuries. Stick to hard kibble and pet-safe dental chew toys to help prevent the build-up of harmful plaque. Don’t forget to supervise your pet while he’s playing and immediately see your veterinarian if your pet consumes part of an inedible chew toy.

Many veterinarians advise annual dental cleanings to keep your dog or cat’s teeth healthy. Regular brushing can also help. Learn more about how to brush your pet’s teeth here.

Monday January 26, 2015

Pets & Cancer


According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, roughly 6 million dogs and a similar number of cats are diagnosed with cancer each year. Cancer is a scary word, but new treatments and preventative tactics are helping us win the fight against the disease.

Early detection is key and knowing the symptoms can make all the difference. Be sure to keep an eye out for:

  • • Lumps
  • • Swelling
  • • Persistent sores
  • • Abnormal discharge from any part of the body
  • • Bad breath
  • • Listlessness/lethargy
  • • Rapid, often unexplained, weight loss
  • • Sudden lameness
  • • Black, tarry stools
  • • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • • Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating

For more information about cancer in pets, visit our friends at the ASPCA®.

Monday February 24, 2014

Tips to Help Your Cat Shed Those Pounds


Has your cat put on a little extra weight during these cold winter months? We’ve found some tips to help you get your kitty back on track.

Your Cat is Not Alone
Nearly 58% of cats are obese, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). When determining whether your pet is overweight, the best way to judge is on a scale at the veterinarian’s office, but you can use points 3 & 4 from our friends at the ASPCA® to assess your pet at home.

Visit Your Veterinarian
Any time your cat is dealing with obesity, consult with a veterinarian first to rule out any medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or other disorders. Your veterinarian can help you gauge your cat’s body condition and create an approved weight loss program for your cat.

Practice Patience
A cat’s diet should not be changed drastically overnight, and you should be sure to follow your veterinarian’s nutrition recommendations. A staged food transition could take approximately two weeks. To help your furry family member adjust and accept his new meal plan, try to spice his chow up by adding ketchup or salmon juice.

Get Moving
Unlike our canine pals, cats aren’t the perfect companions to take along for a morning jog or swim. They’re more of the relaxing type. One great motivator to get your cat moving is to use their mealtime as exercise time. Try walking around the home with their bowl for a few minutes before giving them a portion of the meal. See if you can stretch mealtime out to 20 minutes with this tactic.

As with humans, cats also need some motivation to lose weight. These cat toy ideas from our friends at the ASPCA may be useful to help your cat get and stay active.

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