Posted in General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Sep 15, 2018 | no responses.

There are many factors to be considered in assessing the nutritional needs of a dog or cat to ensure and promote optimal health.  Good nutrition that you can trust which targets the pet’s individual needs based on a professional Nutritional Assessment can really enhance a pet’s quality of life.

A Basic Nutritional Assessment screening should be performed when a veterinarian is initially evaluating a pet.  When visiting your vet for an annual wellness exam, please let him or her know anything and everything about your pet that you feel may be important for your pet’s overall quality of life.  This includes new or old behavioral issues, environmental or social changes and especially diet choices.

Dr. Heather Simon, VMD, examines Pudgie

Dr. Heather Simon, VMD, examines Pudgie

The basic nutritional evaluation includes a routine history followed by a 12 system yearly physical examination performed by a veterinarian. Another important part of the visit is you and your veterinarian reviewing out loud your pet’s previous medical records. This may or may not include your pet’s previous diagnostic baselines like blood work, urines, etc.

You should be asked to discuss current diets, activity level, and other important factors. During every patient exam your veterinarian is recording and adding vital assessment information like temperature, pulse, respiration, and pain assessment to your pet’s medical record.  Nutrition is the 5th Vital Assessment!

An Extended Nutritional Evaluation is done by your veterinarian when one or more nutrition-related risk factors are found.  Some risk factors that affect nutrition assessment are age, activity level, muscle condition, medications, supplements, and disease conditions. Some of the really common genetic acquired disease conditions that veterinarians diagnose daily are: dental disease (number one) followed by kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, acid reflux, high triglycerides and cholesterol issues, urinary tract infections and bladder stones, to name a few.

Hospital Forms

Our pets age at a much faster rate than we people do, and they unfortunately inherit many preprogrammed genetic problems silently and suddenly all of the time.  You and your veterinarian are your pet’s best advocate.  Early diagnosis coupled with a proactive, preventative state of mind is the best medicine for pets who can’t talk.

Bentley dog patient BMAHThere is a common saying in veterinary medicine: If you don’t look you will not find until it’s too late sometimes. Therefore, it is important to remember that pets suffer silently without loving and well-intentioned owners even knowing until veterinary driven evaluations and conversations uncover potential or under-the-radar problems.

Routine annual and baseline testing can include complete blood counts (CBC), biochemistry panels, urinalysis, Heartworm, Lyme, feline Leukemia, and other tests. Hopefully, all results are in normal ranges. However, if abnormal results are identified early, then maximum health and quality of life can be preserved.  Great nutrition is the most natural way to healing a patient from the inside out.

Many pets, especially those with increased risk factors, could greatly benefit from a therapeutic diet that targets specific disease or illness. Please ask your veterinarian to make a specific nutritional recommendation for your individual pet.  They can guide you better than television commercials or the Internet. Your pet’s individual medical information is a vital part of properly assessing the best nutrition for you pet.

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in Events General Pets News on Aug 06, 2018 | no responses.

For those of you with a big interest in herpetology (the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles), come to the 2018 Somerset County 4-H Fair!  Dr. Jessica Stephens will be judging numerous snakes, lizards and a few amphibians and frogs showcased in the Herpetology Club tent on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. Judging takes place in the afternoon from approximately 3:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Somerset County 4-H Herpetology Club





Pets in the Herpetology Club include: bearded dragons, blue-tongued skink, California king snake, Russian tortoise, frogs, Western painted turtle, Eastern painted turtle, leopard geckos, snapping turtle, checkered garter snake, crested Gecko, and corn snake.

4-H Herpetology Reptile TWO

4-H Herpetology Snake





Throughout the year, Herpetology Club members are encouraged to learn about their pets so they can keep them healthy and help educate others about what they have learned. The annual Somerset County 4-H Fair gives club members a venue to showcase their pets and win awards.

4-H Herpetology Reptile







Awards include Best in Show, Best Reserve in Show, and ribbons for each category, typically the four herpetology animal groups (snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises, and amphibians). However, if there are a large number of pets one category, such as bearded dragons, that may can count as a separate category all its own.

The annual Somerset County 4-H Fair is organized by the Somerset County 4-H Association. The 2018 event takes place in North Branch Park in Bridgewater August 8-10. This year’s Fair Theme is: Unleash Your Passion (in 4-H)!   Find more details here:

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Certified Fear Free Professional  – Our Mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in Events General Pets News on Aug 04, 2018 | no responses.

Join us in congratulating our Vet Technician Alyson Weiss for her recognition as one of this year’s Somerset County 4-H “Outstanding Alumni.”  In addition to a reception at the 4-H Center and dinner at Verve, the Somerset County Freeholders will visit the annual 4-H Fair to further recognize the alumnis’ achievements on Wednesday, August 8, at the Alpaca tent at 7 p.m.

Why the Alpaca tent you might ask? Alyson is Co-Division Chair of the Somerset County 4-H Alpaca Club, and she is the proud owner of two alpacas of her own, Rambler and Rebel.

Alyson Weiss BMAH Vet Tech Alpaca Ramler

Alyson Weiss BMAH Vet Tech Alpaca Rebel







Following the 7 p.m. presentation, at 7:30 p.m. seventeen members of the 4-H Alpaca Club will compete in showmanship with their animals.  But that’s not all – the alpacas will compete in the tent again on Friday, August 10, at 1 p.m. for Agility.  Club members will lead their alpaca through an agility course consisting of jumps, weave polls, a bridge they must go over, a teeter totter, and hoops.

Fun fact: The Somerset County 4-H Alpaca Club was the very first 4-H Alpaca Club in the entire country!  The club was started right here in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

The annual 4-H Fair is organized by the Somerset County 4-H Association.  This year’s Fair Theme is: Unleash Your Passion (in 4-H)!   Find more details here:

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Certified Fear Free Professional  – Our Mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in Exotics General Pets Veterinary Medicine on Jul 16, 2018 | no responses.

At Belle Mead Animal Hospital we understand that considering procedures that involve anesthesia can be intimidating. Anesthesia does involve some risk in animals, just as it does in humans. There is no way to completely remove all risk when doing anesthesia. Therefore, a pet owner’s concerns are certainly warranted. You are putting a great deal of faith and trust in your veterinarian’s office when scheduling your pet for an anesthetic procedure.

Scorpio kitten patient Belle Mead Animal Hospital

It is important to keep in mind that there are no state regulations or nationwide standards for anesthetic drugs or procedures in veterinary medicine. Not all individuals are the same, and not all drugs are created equal. If our primary goal was to do things as quick and as cheap as possible we could use a standard inexpensive protocol for every animal. This type of medicine would also not involve thorough anesthetic monitoring and adequate monitoring after the procedure. Please keep these things points in mind when comparing prices from various hospitals. At Belle Mead Animal Hospital, our primary goal is to make things as safe as possible for each individual patient. We believe that each individual pet should be treated as a member of your family. This does require more work on our part. But we believe it is what each patient deserves.

Important points to make sure your pet’s anesthesia is as safe as possible:

1)  Proper case selection: Make sure an adequate exam is done prior to scheduling a procedure. Preanesthetic blood work is also critical prior to most procedures. At BMAH we do not use a “one size fits all” protocol. This physical exam and the blood work results will help your doctor determine which protocols and drugs are best for your pet. At BMAH we try to use a multi-drug approach so that the smallest amounts of each drug can be used. This allows for quick induction, smooth recovery, and less risk of side effects from each particular drug.

2) Intravenous Access: An intravenous catheter is placed in your pet’s vein where fluids can be administered. This catheter is critical should any of your pet’s vitals change during the procedure. The fluids help maintain hydration and blood pressure during the procedure.

3) Proper Monitoring Equipment: The first and BEST way to monitor our patient is assigning a skilled veterinary technician dedicated to each surgery patient. In addition to a proper technician monitoring your pet, who will be documenting your pet’s vitals every few minutes, there are some parameters that we continuouslymonitor with proper equipment – Continuous ECG (electrocardiogram), heart rate, blood pressure, core body temperature, SPO2 (oxygen level in the blood) and ETCO2 (end tidal carbon dioxide concentration). Proper heat is important for all patients under anesthesia. There are many ways to do this; some are safer and more effective than others. At BMAH our surgery table is heated, and we use a bear-hugger which is a warm air circulating blanket that is cocooned around your pet to keep him/her warm.

4) Trained Individual Monitoring: As mentioned above, a trained individual is extremely important for monitoring the patient under anesthesia. But it is also imperative that this individual stays with the animal and makes sure that they safely and smoothly recover from anesthesia.

Puppy Face






When trying to decide if anesthesia is right for your pet and where you should bring your pet, please keep all these things in mind. At Belle Mead Animal Hospital we want anesthesia to be as safe as possible for your pet. Pets deserve to be protected like humans. We also want you to understand all of the things that help us do this. Please do not hesitate to make an appointment to discuss this with your veterinarian if you have any questions.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in Events General Pets News on Jun 28, 2018 | no responses.

From June 30 to July 1, 2018, some of the best-behaved and most highly-trained dogs in the nation will meet at The Roberts Centre in Wilmington, Ohio, with the goal of becoming the next National Obedience Champion at the prestigious American Kennel Club® National Obedience Championship. Our own Dr. Kim Somjen with her dog Chill will be among the contenders!

Dr. Kim Somjen and Dog Chill








Dr. Somjen and Chill will compete against the top obedience dogs in the country who were invited based on the number of Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) points earned throughout the year or placements at AKC Obedience Regional Qualifying Events.

The purpose of obedience trials is to demonstrate the dog’s ability to follow specified routines in heeling, jumping and retrieving as directed by the handler. All contestants in a class are required to perform the same exercises in essentially the same way, so that the relative quality of the various performances may be scored.

The event will be livestreamed! Let’s tune in and cheer them on!  The link below gives you access to Chill’s livestreamed event on Saturday, June 30th, so they won’t be in until the afternoon. Chill is Dog #175! Go Chill !!  AKC TV, Ring 3 and Ring 4: 

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital




Posted in Events News Veterinary Medicine on Jun 27, 2018 | no responses.

There’s still time to enter the Kitty Gift Basket Raffle! Earn tickets with the purchase of Feline Revolution, the safest, most effective way to protect cats against heartworm disease, fleas, and ticks. Revolution will also protect your cats against ear mites and several fecal parasites! You only need to apply Revolution once monthly, and it is easier to apply than Frontline, which by the way does NOT protect cats against heartworm disease.

Kitty Gift Basket Revolution Raffle 2018

Feline Revolution







One raffle ticket is entered for the purchase of 6 months of Feline Revolution, and three tickets are entered for the purchase of 12 months of the product. There are also rebates that cat owners should take advantage of to save money when protecting their cat companions – $5 rebates for 3 doses, $15 rebates for 6 doses and $35 rebates for a full year.

Remember, even if your cat is indoor only, he/she still needs protection. Stop by our reception area to see the ‘Kitty Gift Basket” on display, and protect your feline friends!

Learn more here: Cats Deserve Protection Too!

Belle Mead Animal Hospital, Your Other Family Doctors

Handling Every Pet with Love Every Day!

Belle Mead Animal Hospital Team May 2018

Posted in Events General Pets News Veterinary Services on Jun 13, 2018 | no responses.

The Belle Mead Animal Hospital team will participate with a table in the concourse at Bark in the Park Night hosted by the Somerset Patriots on July 23, 2018 at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater. You’re invited!  It’s a fun family event where you can also bring your dog! Come early and participate in the Pooch Parade at 6:30 p.m.  Game starts at 7:05 p.m.

Belle Mead Animal Hospital team at Somerset Patriots Bark in the Park

BMAH Paw Magnet Best thru 2018






While you are there, stop by the Belle Mead Animal Hospital table and meet some of our Team Members! We’re giving away some cool BMAH Patriot Car and Refrigerator Magnets to our Facebook Friends in addition to a raffle, treats for your dog, and live canine demonstrations! Ask questions and learn more about our services and why we are the Best Team offering the Best Medicine with the Most Compassionate Care!

In addition to the Pooch Parade, doggy ice cream treats will be offered during “Yappy Hour” and the Patriots will provide bowls of water for the attending dogs throughout the concourse area.

All pet owners attending with their dog(s) are asked to bring paperwork displaying proof of vaccination and their dog ID tag to be checked before entry outside the main gate. Dogs do not need a ticket for entry (only the owners!). For faster check-in with your dog, print the Waiver Form at home and bring it with you to the ballpark.

Get tickets and find more information here.

Hope to see you there!

Belle Mead Animal Hospital, Your Other Family Doctors

Handling Every Pet with Love Every Day!

Belle Mead Animal Hospital Team May 2018

Posted in General Pets News Veterinary Services on May 19, 2018 | no responses.

Belle Mead Animal Hospital



Most people with dogs in this area are diligent about protecting them against parasites, which include mosquitoes, fleas and ticks.  Mosquitoes spread heartworm disease and fleas and ticks can harbor just as threatening diseases. Many people are under the impression that cats, especially indoor cats, don’t really need this protection. Veterinarians, as well as cat owners, are now realizing that cats need this protection just as much as dogs, if not more so!

There has been a resurgence of heartworm disease in New Jersey since Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was the largest animal rescue and relocation effort that the U.S. has ever seen. Over 100,000 homeless pets were relocated from the south.  Many of those animals came to New Jersey.  This was a wonderful nationwide effort, but unfortunately, many of these pets were infected with heartworm disease, and it reinfected mosquitoes in New Jersey. Furthermore, the Tiger Asian mosquito underwent a mutation that allowed it to live in New Jersey all year long (not just in warm summer months) and infect even more dogs and cats.  Fleas can harbor diseases as well.  And even though your cat may be indoor only, flea eggs are microscopic and can come into our homes from our shoes and a myriad of other ways.  This is also how microscopic fecal parasites can enter your house.

Cat tree next to window








There are many reasons why heartworm disease and parasites never got the attention it deserved in cats. Cats can get heartworm disease, and because of the unique features of feline heartworm infections, they often will not show up positive on any of the routine testing. Furthermore, cats tend not to show any symptoms of the disease when they are infected.  So owners are unaware that their cat is harboring a potentially fatal disease. Sadly, many cats can die suddenly from heartworm disease.  The ones that do not die suddenly can develop severe respiratory inflammation that is very similar to asthma.  Did you know that a mosquito will prefer to bite a cat over a human because of their higher body temperature?  Just one bite from an infected mosquito can cause permanent damage to your cat’s lungs or worse.

Feline Revolution is the safest, most effective way to protect cats against heartworm disease, fleas, and ticks.  Revolution will also protect your cats against ear mites and several fecal parasites!  You only need to apply revolution once monthly and it is easier than applying Frontline.  (You should also know that although Frontline will protect cats against fleas and ticks, it will NOT protect cats against deadly heartworm disease).

Feline Revolution






In an effort to help educate owners and protect our feline patients against deadly parasites, we are offering up a “Kitty Gift Basket!”  Please stop by our reception desk for details on the basket and how to enter.  In an effort to encourage safe feline prevention, you can also earn raffle tickets with the purchase of Feline Revolution.  One ticket is entered for 6 months of Feline Revolution and three tickets are entered for 12 months of Feline Revolution.  There are also rebates that cat owners should take advantage of to save money when protecting their cat companions.  There are $5 rebates for 3 doses, $15 rebates for 6 doses and $35 rebates for a full year of Feline Revolution.  Please protect your cats against these diseases.  They deserve safe and effective prevention too!

Belle Mead Animal Hospital BMAH Feline Revolution Gift Basket








Belle Mead Animal Hospital, Your Other Family Doctors

BMAH Best Medicine Best Test


Belle Mead Animal Hospital Best Vet 2017

My Pet Is Loved at Belle Mead Animal Hospital



Posted in General Pets on Apr 15, 2018 | no responses.

Properly identifying our pets is so important that an entire week in April has been designated as National Pet Identification Week.  However, proper identification must be secured for your pet year round, and I wanted to share some things you need to know to keep your dog safe while on leash and properly identified if he breaks loose.

The importance of a secure collar

An important tip for dog owners is to first make sure their dog’s collar is snug.  Most people put their dog’s collar on too loose for fear of hurting them.  However, many dogs back out of their collars every year when nervous or excited.  They then run away and get lost, get hit by car, or hurt a child or another pet out of fear and anxiety while on the loose.

Dog Collar

A good rule of thumb is put the collar on so that it is snug, but you can fit one finger or a one inch space in between the dog’s neck and collar.  Also, once fitted and secure, physically try to see if you can slip the collar off your dog’s head easily.  If you can, then the collar is too loose.

Also, Gentle Leaders are used by some pet parents whose dogs pull them too much and are mouthy. Gentle Leaders are great for some dogs and their owners, but not great for others.  However, if you decide to use one, please make sure you buy one with a safety line or attachment from the Gentle Leader to the dog’s regular collar.  This is important because if the Gentle Leader is improperly placed or the dog uses his paws to slip it off his nose, you need a safety strap to prevent the dog from getting loose and into serious trouble.

Gentle Leader

Gentle Leader, as presented by Eric Letendre, YouTube/How To Use a Gentle Leader

Here is a video to show you how to use a Gentle Leader

Microchipping in addition to collar tags can be lifesaving

Now that you have learned how to secure the dog’s collar, make sure you add an identification tag.  An easily seen name tag notifies others that your pet is domesticated.  Therefore, strangers are more likely to assist your pet in finding its home if it gets loose.

But proper tagging is not all.  This is also a good time to point out how inexpensive and easy microchips are to safeguard your pet.  It’s a fact: one dog or cat is reunited every five seconds in our country because of a simple, one-time insertion of a microchip. All my pets are microchipped!

This is how it works: a veterinarian injects a tiny inert chip the size of a sesame seed just under your pet’s skin, between the shoulder blades.  A number on the microchip is entered into an international database, like the Central Animal Registry or PETtrac. If your dog or cat is found, any animal hospital, shelter, or humane society can use a microchip reader to read the unique ID number contained on the chip and find its owner.  It’s as simple as that.  But remember, you must enroll your pet’s number into the database so that it can be identified later on if lost.

The AVMA published an entertaining and informative video regarding why microchipping your pet is so important.  Watch and meet Max here!

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital    

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joseph Martins, DVM
Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Mar 15, 2018 | no responses.

Thankfully, owner requests for front-declaws at our practice are at all-time lows. (I say “thankfully” because as you will read below, declawing is not as benign as once presumed). However, these past few weeks we have had several calls from concerned pet owners. Some questions and frustrations were about kittens, others were about new cats introduced into a household, and there was even one call recently regarding a six year old cat who abruptly started clawing the corner of a sitting chair. Therefore, I have decided to put in writing as much material as I can regarding the concerns of the declaw procedure and the concerns of a destructive cat. I hope that this material may serve as a reference and be shared with anyone who cares about helping cats and their owners with matters like this. When I see cat patients in the exam rooms at Belle Mead Animal Hospital (BMAH), I believe that it is important to spend a great deal of time with these owners discussing this topic because they love their cats dearly, and they are struggling to find a long-term solution.

When considering declawing, please remember that your veterinarian is the best trained person to help you with these decisions. Secondly, don’t feel pressured or rushed into a decision you might regret. Thirdly, before getting a cat, have a plan that starts with patience and preparation. Be open minded and active in your cat’s training, especially until kittens have gone through their wild kitten stages. There are 7 points below in this article that will help you through this training and should be a part of everyone’s action plan.

What is declawing? Does is hurt my cat?

Feline front-declawing is not just surgically removing the nail, as most people assume. The nail is intimately attached to the last bone in a cat’s toe. It is therefore the equivalent of amputating a person’s finger at the last joint of every finger – which would mean 10 separate amputations! Years ago when front declawing was a more common practice and pain management was in its infancy, the myth was that cats didn’t feel pain like people do. We now know that cats often do not show their pain, but that they certainly feel physical pain like humans. Unfortunately, cats react and express pain in very different ways from us. Therefore, their pain can go unnoticed or neglected. Some of the most common symptoms of pain in cats can include hiding, eating less, and subtle changes in their normal personalities and routines. Behavior changes like eating more than usual or less than usual and also seeming more active (restless) or less active (sleeping more) can be pain, discomfort, and/or waves of not feeling well that wax and wane. So as you can see, it can be very complicated to interpret a cat’s behavior. Please do not assume that just because your cat is not crying or limping that he or she is not in pain. Cats are “silent sufferers” and the orphan species of diagnostic work-ups and pain management. We at BMAH, believe in changing this one cat and one pet owner at a time. We are committed to building an awareness through honest and open communication and education.

So again we need to remind everyone that declawing, even under the best circumstances and the highest standards of pain management, still leaves undeniable and unpredictable risks. Some risks are short-term and others can be long-term physical and/or emotional issues. This explains the recent movement to ban the practice, as is already the case in the UK and California. Also, laser declaw surgery does not eliminate risks, and in fact, in the wrong hands, can result in an even worse outcome.

We at BMAH will always treat our patients and owners with honesty and the best veterinary medical care and pain management. Declawing should be a last resort that pet owners must understand completely before undertaking this irreversible and painful procedure.

What should I try before I consider declawing?

Please remember that it is normal cat behavior to go around marking and scratching your home immediately. This is what their natural instincts tell them to do. Scratching is normal behavior necessary to maintain normal claw motion. We are cat owners too, and we understand that this behavior may damage your furniture. Furthermore, those cats especially in new homes or with new furniture feel the need to leave markers of his or her scent. However, with a little time and patience you will be able to minimize and potentially even stop these behaviors with a few smart training tips and tools.

If you are considering adopting or obtaining a new cat, we at BMAH recommend that you purchase a few things ahead of time (especially with new kittens). Preparation is ideal, but it is not too late to go out to your local pet store now and get supplies. Amwell Pet Supply in Hillsborough on Route 206 is a great local business that has many of the things you will need. We encourage you to try this store because they also help support feline-focused animal rescue in our community.

Cats with cat tree and scratchers

Tall Cat Tree








  1. Scratching Posts, Pads, and Perches

It is a good idea to experiment with a few different types of scratchers of different textures. By providing this variety you will quickly learn what your cat prefers. Every cat needs a good scratching post and perch that is solid so that they can play rough on, climb on (like a jungle gym) and even sleep on it for years to come. Cats tend to feel safer higher up. They also like to get a bird’s eye view of the house. Therefore, try to get a perch that gives your cat some height to look out a window or across the room. I like to get some that have both carpet and sisal surfaces. At Amwell Pet Supply they have all sizes and nice colors that will blend in with your home decor. You can also have them made to order if you have
specific size and color preferences.

Floor cat scratcher

floor cat scratcher and cat tree







Placement of the scratchers is critical. Cats like to stretch and scratch when they wake up, so you can place some small portable sisal boards or cardboard boxes near a few of the places where your cat sleeps. If your cat sleeps in your bedroom or near a couch, place it on the floor by the corner of the bed or couch. Your cat needs to scratch – we just need to get your cat in the good habit of scratching on cat appropriate areas and make other areas less desirable until your cat has its established marked areas with its own scent.

Cat using scratching post

cat resting by scratching post








  1. Feliway Classic Spray, Wipes or Diffuser

Feliway an amazing and affordable synthetic pheromone that both makes cats happy and helps them avoid scratching specific things like couches and furniture. French scientists years ago discovered that there are scents on cats’ faces and paws that make cats want to rub their faces, bodies and claws on people and things. Feliway is a natural pheromone (scent) in a handy little spray bottle. It can be used on or near anything you deem valuable and neutralizes it immediately so that your cat does not feel the need to mark it with his or her front claws. It also comes as wipes, plug-in diffusers to help create large neutral “happy areas,” or pheromone collars for cats who are scratching, scared, hiding, fighting, in pain, or urine spraying.

  1. Sticky Paws transparent double-sided tape

If your cat is scratching now, go out and get this! It’s easy to apply and safe for furniture, drapes, carpets, stereo speakers, counter tops, etc. You just need to use this temporarily for a few weeks until your cat figures out – I don’t like this sticky new couch corner – let me go scratch on my cool post or pad that already has my scent. Living in a home with 7 wonderful cats – I personally take out the Feliway neutralizing spray and Sticky Paws whenever I get “new” furniture and put it on all the corners of my new furniture just for a few weeks so my cats don’t feel the temptation to mark it because of its novelty.

Cats using cat scratcher and cat tree

Cat tree next to window








  1. Regular nail trimming of cat claws

It’s a good idea to start teaching kittens how to get comfortable with nail trims. At home, it should never be a rushed or stressful experience. Please go out of your way to play with kittens daily around the perches. Use laser pointers and other things like catnip, toys or toy wands with feathers. Make it a daily a.m. and p.m. routine with kittens, but especially early nights and weekends when you have the time. Your kitten will have less of these wild kitten behaviors if they have your routine to look forward to. Make time with your new pet to encourage healthy positive play, scratching and teething on objects that are appropriate. Try to get in the habit of not using your hands to play. Anticipate that your cat may try to jump and claw at inappropriate things and redirect with an extension of yourself like a laser or cat wand. Again, do not use your hands to play rough with kittens, and don’t let them teeth you. Wait until after 6 months when teething is calming down. Use a long wand or thicker catnip infused toys for kittens to grab, claw, and teeth on.

Do not attempt to trim nails right after getting your cat wild and excited either. Wait at least 20-40 minutes after play when your cat is calm to try and gently touch one nail or two at a time. You may want to wait until your cat is really relaxed. Be smart and pick these times wisely. Be patient, be kind, and have fun.  When you are ready, use a feline specific nail trimmer that won’t splinter the nails, and just touch or trim the tips of the nails at first.  Breathe and don’t be tense. Cats respond to your energy. Your cat will be more relaxed if you are confident and relaxed.

Cat sleeping on cat perch








Remember, every cat is different.  Indoor cats that are trained to actively use their scratching posts might only need a nail trim once a year with their annual wellness veterinary exam.  Some other cats may need it done every 3-6 months as adults. All kittens benefit from nail trims every 3-4 weeks when they are getting their kitten series at the vet’s office. This is a great time to learn, watch and ask your vet questions about how to trim nails and discuss these issues. Have questions? Ask us at BMAH for a demonstration or advice. For kittens or cats that are resistant or aggressive, they can have their nails trimmed at the veterinarian’s office.

  1.  Feliscratch by Feliway – Blue coloring

Feliscratch is the new synthetic natural pheromone from cats’ paws in a bottle. It has a visually cat attractive blue colorant also that signals and redirects cats onto using scratching posts. This is great for cats whose owners say they have scratching posts but their cats will not use them. Be warned – the blue color can be permanent so do not use this on your furniture, but do use it on your more disposable or less valuable scratching posts and pads for training.

  1. Temporary synthetic nail caps (that are glued on cat nails)

I do not recommend these nail caps. Cats do not like them and they are frustrating for everyone involved.

  1. Environmental enrichment

We have touched upon this, but being active in welcoming and enriching your cat’s home is critical in teaching your cat how to scratch on appropriate objects and not develop other behavioral issues as well.
Kittens and cats have energy and they get bored. They need more than just food, water, and litter boxes that are sifted twice daily. Cats need enrichment. They need an active, creative, personal pet trainer and pet advocate.

To learn more about Environmental Enrichment, Alternatives to Declawing, and Nail/Claw trimming, go to the AAFP (American Association of FELINE PRACTITIONERS) website. They have a lot of interesting and valuable information for cat owners:



Here is an online resource for help on finding a suitable scratching post(s):


Will BMAH declaw my cat in some situations?

Yes, but at BMAH we will not declaw any cat until we have exhausted all other alternatives. There are special circumstances and medical conditions where humans sharing the home can be harmed by even the smallest accidental scratches. Therefore, we will help these families who honestly feel that they have tried everything else. In these few, rare cases, declawing might be a better option than confining their cat for life or taking it to a shelter.

Declawing surgical procedures requires general anesthesia, multimodal pain management, and hospitalization for 2-3 nights before cats can be discharged home. These cats will require owners to confine their cats to small rooms, use paper litter, and give oral pain meds for 14 days. The surgical procedure exposes all cats to risks of bleeding, infection, limping, and nerve damage. If there are no obvious complications cats, usually hold up their paws and walk gingerly for about 2 weeks, however, some cats may do this for up to 8 weeks.

Pet owners must accept responsibility of all possible potential short-term and long-term complications for them and their cat before signing off on this procedure.

As always, if you have questions, please call or come by Belle Mead Animal Hospital and ask us! Your cat is a member of your family, and we’re here to help you make the experience rewarding for everyone.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital