How Do I Choose a Cat Litter?

Failing to eliminate in the litter box is the number one reason that pet cats are surrendered to shelters nationwide.

In multi-cat households, you should have a litter box for each pet, plus an extra.  Cats prefer uncovered boxes in more open spaces of the house, so they don’t feel like the could be ambushed, cramped or cornered!  Here is a handy guide to litter types to try to keep your cat, and you, happy!


Granulated Clay Litter

Granulated clay litter has been around for decades. Inspired by absorbent clay that soaked up industrial spills, this traditional substance directs your cat’s urine to the litter box floor. Although this formulation controls the urine-based ammonia smell reasonably well, the odor returns within a week. Removing your cat’s solid deposits daily helps to control the stench. By replacing the litter weekly, you’ll keep the box as fresh as possible. Or, use a minimal amount of litter and completely replace it daily.

Clumping Cat Litter

Super-absorbent clumping cat litter enables you to keep Trixie’s litter box smelling fresher for an extended period. Each time she urinates, the urine sticks to the litter granules, forming a removable clump. When you remove the clump, the urine odor vanishes. In a single-cat household, a box of clumping litter should be effective for several weeks. With multiple cats, however, plan to replace the litter in less than one month.

Pricey clumping litter is available in several custom formulations. Choose from less-tracking, multiple-cat, and flushable types. Keep an eye on the market, as manufacturers frequently introduce new cat litter varieties.

More Feline Litter Formulations

Perhaps you’d like to leave a minimal footprint on the environment. Consider an eco-friendly litter made from peanut shell meal, corn cobs, recycled newspaper, pine sawdust/shavings, silica gel beads/crystals, or processed orange peel. Each substance claims to control odor, last longer, and be environmentally friendly.

When your kitty visit Rita Ranch Pet Hospital for a checkup, share your litter box experiences. Learn what substances other pampered cats prefer to scratch through daily. If you have further questions, contact us for expert advice!


Should I Walk My Cat?

Does your feline friend often scratch or meow at the door? Does she spend hours at the window, watching birds and squirrels? If so, your furry friend may enjoy being walked on a leash. While we normally associate leashes and walks with our canine pals, some of our feline buddies also enjoy a nice stroll. But should you walk your cat? Read on for some tips from a local veterinarian.

Feline Wearing a Harness

Why Walk A Cat?

Kitties are much safer indoors. If Fluffy is allowed to roam freely outdoors, she faces many risks: cars, predators, toxins, weather, and other dangers. Walking your kitty on a leash will allow her to get a taste of outside life without exposing her to these hazards. Walking is also great exercise for your cat.


Our adorable feline friends all have their own unique personalities. Some kitties are bold and friendly, while others are more timid. Consider your cat’s temperament before attempting to walk her. Shy, anxious cats, and those who don’t like being handled, may become very frightened outside. Cats that were once outdoor kitties, and those brave kitties who fear nothing, may really enjoy going for walks.


While leashes do work for some cats, you may find your cat more accepting of a harness. You’ll want to be sure the leash snaps on at the back, rather than at their neck. You’ll want to train your kitty indoors before taking her outside. Start by getting her used to the harness. Let her sniff it and play with it, and give her lots of treats and cuddles, so she forms a good association with it. Then, let her wear it indoors. It may take a bit of time for her to accept this strange new piece of gear, but be patient. When she is used to the harness, attach the leash, and let her drag it around. Make sure to closely supervise your cat whenever she is wearing her harness and leash!


You cat’s safety should always come first and foremost. Always carry your kitty outdoors, and only put her down in safe areas. Never leave your kitty tied to a tree or post. You might also want to avoid walking near trees, at least at first, just in case Fluffy decides to go for a climb.


5 Reasons To Buy A Cat Tree

While providing quality food, fresh water, a clean litterbox, lots of love, and a few toys will see to Fluffy’s basic needs, a cat tower (also known as a cat “tree” or cat “castle”) will provide several great benefits. In this article, we’ll list five reasons to get Kitty a tower!


Setting a cat tower in front of a window with a view is almost guaranteed to keep your furball entertained for hours. Our feline friends are very curious and love to explore, but face many hazards once they leave the safety of your home. Fluffy can get a taste of the outside world without being exposed to danger from predators, cars, or other hazards.


Many kitties enjoy high places, and it isn’t uncommon for people to find their feline friends staring down at them from the tops of bookcases or refrigerators. Kitties are little, and, from ground level, have a somewhat limited view of the world. Climbing up to a higher spot will help Fluffy feel safe and secure, and will allow her to survey her territory from a secure place.


Have you ever caught Fluffy scratching the corner of a chair or sofa? Kitty has an inherent need to scratch, and they will do it elsewhere if not provided with an appropriate place to call their own. In the wild, trees provide excellent scratching posts. For an indoor-dwelling cat, a tower is the next best thing!


Exercise is great for our feline friends, both physically and mentally. Your feline pal might love climbing, jumping, and playing on her tower. Even if Fluffy only climbs onto the tower and immediately dozes off, it’s still going to boost her activity level a bit.


Kitties do pretty well at finding themselves comfy spots to nap in, but that doesn’t mean Fluffy won’t take full advantage of her tower, especially if it lines up with her favorite sunbeam. Towers with one enclosed level may also help shy kitties feel more secure, as our feline pals tend to feel very safe in small, high places.

Do you have any questions about your furry friend’s care, health, or behavior? Contact us at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital to discuss them. Our friendly & knowledgeable technicians and doctors are always happy to help!


Thanksgiving Safety for Pets

There’s enough for people to worry about at Thanksgiving.  But we can’t just think of ourselves over this food-focused holiday: We have to look after our best friends, too.

It’s easy to want to give your dog a big fat bowl of turkey, mashed potatoes, and whatever else you think she might enjoy. But that’s a bad idea. Overindulging in fatty foods can lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, or a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. Keep in mind that turkey skin can wreak havoc with a dog’s digestive system, so make sure she gets skinless, boneless turkey.

Cooked turkey bones can also be a danger to your dog. They’re sharp, and potentially very dangerous. Don’t leave plates with bones lying around. Ditto for the turkey carcass. Hungry dogs have been known to run off with the remains of a carved turkey. It can happen in the blink of an eye!

Begging pooch?  A dog who has been on a big walk or fetched the ball a zillion times will be much more likely to be well-behaved & and calm during the feast than a dog who’s been inside all day. A tired dog is a good dog on Thanksgiving. Make sure your pup gets plenty of exercise before the festivities begin.

Here is a list of foods you can share (in moderation!) with your dog on Thanksgiving compiled from and

WARNING: Sharing these foods with your dog will result in one happy pooch giving you sloppy kisses and endless tail wags.

  •  Sweet potatoes without the skin
  •  Raw apple slices
  • Steamed carrots, broccoli or string beans without any seasoning or salt
  •  Raw carrots
  •  Salt-free chicken broth
  • Yams – no brown sugar or marshmallows
  • Corn – in small amounts, provides carbs for energy
  • Cranberries – high in Vitamin C and antioxidants
  • Mashed potatoes without the gravy, butter, sour cream, or salt
  • Pumpkin, before you turn it into pie
  •  Wild rice without seasoning – a good source of fiber
  • Turkey, without the skin or bone

Source: and

“Fox Tail” Weeds — Trouble for Pets

Does your dog love to romp in the yard and play ball?  The weather is cooling off, and there is an outside hazard you should know about!  A serious hazard for field dogs, or any dogs in the field, are the hard seed-bearing structures of some kinds of grasses, often called “foxtails”. These structures have sharp points at one end, and microscopic barbs, so that they easily move in the direction of the point, but not the other way. They “work in,” but they don’t “work out”. They can become embedded in the hair, especially the paws and ears, and in nostrils and even eyes. As they work their way in, they cause infection, and if not treated can sometimes be fatal.

The most troublesome grass is the actual “foxtail” or “wild barley” (Hordeum murinum). The individual reproductive structures are small and easy to overlook. This grass is common in weedy areas around roads, paths, and other disturbances. It is an annual, and is soft and green from January through March or April. As the seed heads dry in the late spring, they become dangerous, and they stay that way throughout the summer and early fall. Here are some closeups.

They can dive deep into a dog’s nostril or ear canal (beyond sight) in the blink of an eye. And a foxtail camouflaged under a layer of hair can readily burrow through the skin (a favorite hiding place is between toes). Foxtails can wind up virtually anywhere in the body, and associated symptoms vary based on location. For example, a foxtail within the ear canal causes head shaking, under the skin a draining tract, or within the lung, labored breathing and coughing. Not only is the dog’s body incapable of degrading or decomposing foxtails, these plant awns are barbed in such a way that they can only move in a “forward” direction. Unless caught early, they, and the bacteria they carry, either become walled off to form an abscess or migrate through the body causing infection and tissue damage. Once foxtails have moved internally, they become the proverbial needle in a haystack—notoriously difficult to find and remove.

If you suspect your dog has a foxtail-related issue, contact us at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital right away to find out what steps can be taken to rid your dog of this unwanted plant material. Whenever possible, avoidance of foxtail exposure is the best and only foolproof prevention.  Keeping your yard clean and free of weeds is the best prevention you can provide your dog against foxtails.

If your dog does have access to foxtails, carefully comb through his or her haircoat—checking ears and toes, too —a couple of times daily to remove any that are embedded and poised to wreak havoc!