Archive from August, 2012

Scratching the Surface of Allergies in Cats

Aug 29, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Humans aren’t alone in suffering from allergies.  Cats get allergies too, and their allergies can cause a variety of symptoms.  In humans, allergies typically cause signs such as coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes.  Cats usually react to allergies by suffering from excessive itching, leading to scratching, licking, rubbing, or biting themselves, resulting in hair loss, and damaged irritated skin.

Even though skin problems are most commonly seen, the problem is more than skin deep.  Allergies can also cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract, causing vomiting and or diarrhea, and can damage the lungs, in some cats, leading to asthma.

Our immune system is constantly being bombarded by, and protects us from, challenges present in our environment. An allergic reaction occurs when a normally harmless substance, called an allergen, causes an abnormal and excessive immune response which leads to inflammation. Allergens can be anything from A to Z in the world including pollens from trees, grass or weeds, molds, dust and dust mites, saliva from flea and other insect bites, foods, wool, etc. Finding out what your cat may be allergic to can be problematic, and often impossible.

For those cats suffering from skin allergy, this inflammatory reaction can cause itching, which then causes scratching which causes more itching, and so on. This itch-scratch cycle can cause incredible discomfort, decreased quality of life for your cat, and keep you up at night with the sounds of scratching, and licking.

If you suspect that your cat has allergies, consult your veterinarian.  Some cats have seasonal allergies, while other exhibits symptoms of their allergy year round.  Other causes of skin problems need to be ruled out, and can be dependent on where you live. These can include ringworm, skin mites, internal diseases, and cancer.

Diagnosis and treatment can be difficult because of the complex interactions of the cat’s immune system with the environment.  Removal of different substances from their surroundings can be tried, or observing the response to prescribed medications can be undertaken.  Some of these medications are safer than others, and will vary from case to case. In some cases, allergy testing can be performed to try to determine what specific allergens are at fault.

Unfortunately, even though there are different treatment options available to make your cat more comfortable, please know that allergic diseases are managed and not cured. When left untreated, allergies can have negative effects on your cat’s comfort and quality of life, and can become more difficult to treat as time passes. The lesson here is simple – treat early and don’t let itching and scratching get under your and your cat’s skin.  >^..^<

Dr Robert Marrazzo

Fellow, American Association of Feline Practitioners Owner and Founder of The Cat Hospital at Palm Harbor Throughout his life Dr. Marrazzo has had, and continues to develop a growing passion and love for cats, as well as an appreciation of their unique nature. He has dedicated his professional career to their care, and to learning more about them. After graduating from Cornell University, he attended the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, where he was mentored by Dr. Michael Schaer. He received his degree as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988, and was awarded the Phi Theta Kappa Award for academic excellence in veterinary medicine and surgery.

After graduation, he actively sought out positions and externships that allowed him to work with leaders in the field of veterinary medicine. He has practiced in both internal medicine, and neurology / neurosurgery practices, and also has an extensive background in emergency medicine and surgery, and critical care.

He is an active supporter in local, state and national feline organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association, The American Animal Hospital Association, Cornell Feline Health Center, The Veterinary Laser Surgical Society, and the American Veterinary Dental Society. He is most proud of his long affiliation with the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and currently serves on the Executive Board of that organization. He is active locally having volunteered at the Humane Society, and is a Past-President of the Pinellas Animal Foundation. He has been a regular contributor to Ask-A-Vet newspaper column, Healthy Cat Journal, and the Eastlake Heron.

Dr. Marrazzo enjoys continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences across the country each year focusing on the latest advancements in feline medicine and surgery. He also enjoys being an educator, not only for his client’s, but he also is currently an Adjunct Professor of Veterinary Medical Technology at St. Petersburg College, where he has discovered a new passion – teaching veterinary emergency and critical care to veterinary technician students.

He is very proud and excited that his two children, Christopher and Kimberly, are pursuing careers in veterinary medicine! He is allowed to share his home with four cats, Al, Gus, Bean, and Lefty, who lost his left ear in a car engine as a stray.

Dr. Marrazzo loves the outdoors and nature. He is an avid bicycle rider, enjoys kayaking, boating, reading mystery novels, and has special interests in history and archeology.

The Cat Hospital at Palm Harbor
2501 Alternate 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL 34683

Phone: (727) 785-2287
Fax: (727)785-2887
Email: staff@wespeakmeow.com

Website: http://www.bobcatdvm.com/
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When is the Best Time to Neuter/Spay my Cat?

Aug 26, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

When I was growing up in the 60’s, over 6 months or after they have had one litter was considered the best answer. How times have changed.

The main benefit of neutering prior to puberty is no new kittens. Another benefit to the cat is a decrease in the incident of breast cancer.

Neutering and spaying decreases the spread of Feline Leukemia and FIV. Feline Leukemia is spread from mother to kittens – so if there are no new kittens, the spread of Feline Leukemia decreases. FIV is spread from fighting. Neutering decreases aggression and fighting. Here is more information about the benefits of neutering/spaying.

But what about urinary problems?  If they are neutered too early will this be a problem?  Fortunately studies have shown there is no increased risk. Some veterinarians are neutering as early 2 months.

The following is a provocative link about early neutering. I like how it challenges our perception of our kittens. I would love to hear what you think of this approach. Word of warning – there is a dog scene. If you are offended, you may want to jump to the second half of the video. Watch the video now.

Dr Marcus Brown

Dr. Brown, founder of the NOVA Cat Clinic and co-founder of the NOVA Cat Clinic, received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1986 from the University of Illinois. Currently the medical director for Alley Cat Allies and is an active supporter in local, state and national feline organizations such as: American Veterinary Dental Society, American Association of Feline Practitioners, American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Brown also contributed the creation of the Association of Feline Practitioners’ 2009 Wellness Guidelines for Feline Practitioners.

Dr. Brown enjoys continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences across the country focusing on the advancement in feline veterinary care. Dr. Brown also utilizes on-line discussion groups and veterinary networks to assist the clinic in maintaining the highest level of care and providing the newest treatments available in feline medicine.

NOVA Cat Clinic
923 N. Kenmore St.
Arlington VA 22201

Phone: 703-525-1955
Fax: 703-525-1957
Email: novacatclinic@gmail.com

Website: http://novacatclinic.com/
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Your Cat Does Not Have to Dread Visiting the Veterinarian

Aug 22, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

(THE COMFY SOFA, My House, Annapolis, Maryland) August 14, 2012—Saturday marks the beginning of National Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian week, and to celebrate, I thought I would share tips on making the trip to the veterinarian more pleasant for everyone.

As a cat, I totally sympathize with your cat; going to the vet can be stressful. In fact, disrupting my schedule for any reason is an offense to which I do not take kindly. But I have come to understand that semi-annual checkups are necessary to ensure I remain the lean, healthy, Adonis-like creature that I am. I am sharing the following tips to help your cat come to the same understanding:

  1. I’ve said it before, but just in case you missed it, I will say it again. Get your cat to like its carrier. It can be done, and your cat will thank you for it because it will give him an additional place to snooze. My carrier is always left out and open with my favorite blanket it in, and I can frequently be found napping inside. Check out this video to learn what else you can do to help your cat get over its fear of the carrier.

    YouTube Preview Image

  2. You might want to consider finding a cat-friendly veterinarian. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has developed a program that certifies veterinary practices as “cat friendly,” and has a list of them on their website. I love my cat-friendly veterinarian! She knows that I want to stay in my carrier if at all possible when she is examining me, and the waiting rooms at her practice are segregated by species so I don’t have to come nose-to-nose with a curious collie while I’m waiting to see her.
  3. Make the trip fun. I love hearing how wonderful I am. Even better, I love it when you pet me and reward me for how wonderful I am. Tell me and show me frequently during the trip that I am the most amazing creature in the world for putting on my brave face and allowing my schedule to be disrupted for a trip to the veterinarian. I’m a complete sucker for that.

Your cat is an important member of your family – I know I am — and, as such, needs regular preventive health care, no matter how much he or she may protest. Did you know that dental disease affects 68% of all cats over the age of three? That most cases of diabetes could be prevented if the 53% of cats that are overweight were on the proper food? A simple checkup can help detect and treat preventable diseases and conditions that can cut a life short. Yikes! It hurts to even type that.

Even if you can’t get your cat into the veterinarian during Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian week, you can work on getting your cat used to its carrier and that make that important appointment for a preventive healthcare examination by your veterinarian. Some veterinarians even make house calls! So don’t delay … you work on that appointment and I’ll work on talking my owner into that house call thing. (Hmmm…never leaving bed. Sounds good.)

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s favorite pet. It was founded in response to troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at catalystcouncil.org.

For more information on CAT Stanley, including how he got his name, visit his section on the CATalyst Council web site.

Dr Jane Brunt

Dr. Jane Brunt, founder of Cat Hospital at Towson (CHAT), is the pioneer of feline exclusive practice in Maryland. She received her DVM from Kansas State University (go, Cats!), and since 1984 has advocated the necessity of an outstanding facility and staff dedicated to practicing the highest quality of cats only care and medicine at CHAT.

She is a Past-President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association. In 1997, Dr. Brunt was named one of Baltimore’s “Top Vets” and featured on the cover of Baltimore Magazine, and in 1998 she served as Chair of the Host Committee for the AVMA Annual Convention in Baltimore (attended by a record 8,000 veterinary professionals and supporters), receiving several awards and accolades. A national advisor on feline medicine, she is also an active supporter of local, state, and national feline organizations, especially of the new generation of veterinary professionals.

Building on her clinical cat commitments and organizational passions, she serves as the Executive Director of CATalyst Council, a not-for-profit coalition of organizations and individuals committed to changing the way society cares for cats, “Promoting the Power of Purr…” across veterinary, sheltering, and public/civic communities. She owns a wayward standard poodle named Luka and three hilarious, keyboard-keen cats- Paddy, Freddie and CAT Stanley!

Cat Hospital at Towson
6701 York Road
Baltimore, MD 21212

Phone: (410) 377-7900
Email: cathospital@catdoc.com

Website: http://www.catdoc.com/
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Are Cats Social?

Aug 18, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

Those of us that live with and love cats know that cats are different from dogs, people, and other species. We also recognize that cats can be important family members, friends, companions, and even “the love of our life”. The cat’s social structure is sufficiently different from ours that it was once thought that cats were not social animals. We now know that cats are indeed social, just different.

The cat’s social structure usually consists of related females cooperatively caring for kittens in a colony. Many of the adult males leave the colony and may remain solitary; some will try to integrate into a colony, which can take a very long time of slow and gradual introductions.

Cats choose with whom to be social and when. When we understand that social groupings usually consist of queens and kittens, it makes good sense to adopt littermates or siblings together. These kittens already have a great social group and are much more likely to be “best buds for life”. Being the same age, they can play rough together, without a younger cat hurting an older cat. The next best choice is a kitten and the mother cat.

Trying to introduce different cats to each other is like a solitary cat trying to integrate into a colony – the introduction needs to be very slow and gradual. Even if the cats live together without hissing or fighting, they may pass each other without any interest to sleep together or play together – or they may choose to become great friends just as mine did. The rule with cats from different families though is they need to choice; if we try to force them to be friends, it will backfire.

How can you tell if your cats are friends (called “affiliates” in veterinary medicine)? Cats that like each other rub against each other, and often sleep or rest together. They also lick each other, preferably on the head and neck. (see pictures) In fact, when introducing ourselves to a cat, it’s best to massage in front of the ears, under the chin, or on the cheeks. But first let the cat come to you and then do so; forcing them, will greatly delay the loving relationship.

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
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Help me, There’s a Ringing in my Ears!

Aug 14, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

A recent report out of Georgia where participants hooked up cameras around the necks of 60 cats and permitted them to roam showed that 44% (around 27) of them hunted. Now this is not especially surprising since that’s normal cat behavior, and we know that even the best-intended families can have their felines occasionally take a “walk on the wild side.” But this report underscores that it’s even more important to keep your cat healthy! Besides the deadly rabies virus found across the US (including a rabid bat on my front steps…), there are other diseases and problems which your cat could bring home in addition to the creatures which included lizards, snakes and frogs (41% of the hunters’ prey), chipmunks and vols (25 %), insects and worms (20 %) and, less frequently, birds (which represented only 12 % of the prey of the hunting cats).

What can you do?

  1. Keep your cat’s indoor environment enriched with cat trees, perches, interactive toys and food puzzles.
  2. If you do allow your cat outdoors, ensure that it’s supervised on a harness and lead or in an enclosure.
  3. Make sure your cat has complete identification including a collar with ID tags (and a bell if you think it may warn prey) AND permanent ID in the form of a microchip. Think your cat won’t keep a collar on? Scientific reports show that most cats will.
  4. For the health of your pets and your family, make sure your cat is on year-round parasite prevention. Even if your cat NEVER escapes, pesky parasites like fleas and ticks and the diseases they transmit can hitch a ride indoors on (or inside) other pets, people or a variety of critters. Flies, worms and crickets could be the secret passageway for parasitic or other problems. And remember, over-the-counter topical medications do not treat or prevent heartworms, hookworms and roundworms, and the latter two can cause devastating human illness! Visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council for more information, including a map of parasite disease incidence.
  5. Celebrate Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian Week with Petfinders.com and tips from CAT Stanley of the CATalyst Council and call your veterinarian today to make an appointment for your cats! Your veterinarian will tell you what’s the best food for your cat (and how much!), what vaccinations are needed for your cat’s lifestyle, and tailor a parasite prevention program specific for your cat to help keep it -and your family- healthy and safe. And while your cat may not have ringing in its ears, ear infections are common as are other often unrecognized problems like dental disease, diabetes or kidney disease. By taking your cat to your veterinarian regularly for preventive health care, other conditions can be detected earlier to help with better outcomes.

If you need help finding a feline veterinarian in your area, visit the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ web site at www.catvets.com.

Dr Jane Brunt

Dr. Jane Brunt, founder of Cat Hospital at Towson (CHAT), is the pioneer of feline exclusive practice in Maryland. She received her DVM from Kansas State University (go, Cats!), and since 1984 has advocated the necessity of an outstanding facility and staff dedicated to practicing the highest quality of cats only care and medicine at CHAT.

She is a Past-President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association. In 1997, Dr. Brunt was named one of Baltimore’s “Top Vets” and featured on the cover of Baltimore Magazine, and in 1998 she served as Chair of the Host Committee for the AVMA Annual Convention in Baltimore (attended by a record 8,000 veterinary professionals and supporters), receiving several awards and accolades. A national advisor on feline medicine, she is also an active supporter of local, state, and national feline organizations, especially of the new generation of veterinary professionals.

Building on her clinical cat commitments and organizational passions, she serves as the Executive Director of CATalyst Council, a not-for-profit coalition of organizations and individuals committed to changing the way society cares for cats, “Promoting the Power of Purr…” across veterinary, sheltering, and public/civic communities. She owns a wayward standard poodle named Luka and three hilarious, keyboard-keen cats- Paddy, Freddie and CAT Stanley!

Cat Hospital at Towson
6701 York Road
Baltimore, MD 21212

Phone: (410) 377-7900
Email: cathospital@catdoc.com

Website: http://www.catdoc.com/
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Don’t Let Those Bed Bugs Bite!

Aug 11, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Is there anything more disgusting than bed bugs?  Just the thought of those diabolical creatures, crawling around in our beds and making meals of our blood while we’re asleep is enough to give anyone nightmares!

Bed bugs are very much in the public eye right now, and there are several parts of the country experiencing epidemic-level problems.  Those tiny nocturnal pests are difficult to eliminate, and people can unwittingly carry them into their homes through contaminated bedding materials or furnishings that are infested with the bugs.  Because they are so hard to identify, it can be relatively simple to carry bed bugs from location to location.  Hotels are, unfortunately, a perfect opportunity for these wily creatures to hitch a ride into new homes through luggage or clothing.

Bed bugs prefer human blood, but most species will feed on cats and other animals, which is of course a concern for us cat lovers!

Happily, though, this is one area where cats really have an advantage over us humans.  As a cat vet who is concerned about the level of protection our cats receive against parasites and heartworm disease, I always recommend that all cats receive monthly preventive treatments with anti-parasite products that have effectiveness against fleas, intestinal parasites and heartworm disease.  These topical products will also protect against bed bugs, so those furry companions in our beds—if they’re properly protected– should be safer than we are!

Bed bugs are exceedingly nasty but they don’t actually live on people or animals.  They are what are called periodic parasites, which means they make frequent trips to their hosts to feed but they actually live away from their hosts (in this case, bed bugs live in bedding, clothing, etc).  Another interesting—and possibly reassuring—fact about bed bugs is that even though they take many blood meals, it does not appear as though they transmit any diseases to people.  People frequently get reactions from bed bug bites, much like many of us do with mosquito bites, but those welts generally subside over time.

So…the best protection for your cat from the scourge of bed bugs is to protect your cat against fleas, intestinal parasites and heartworms.  It’s a win-win!

Dr Cathy Lund

Cathy Lund, DVM, owns and operates City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats, a cat practice located in Providence, RI. She is also the board president and founder of the Companion Animal Foundation, a statewide, veterinary-based nonprofit organization that helps low-income pet owners afford essential veterinary care. She lives in Providence, and serves on several architectural and preservation commissions in the city, and is on the board of directors of WRNI, RI’s own NPR station. But her favorite activity is to promote the countless virtues of the “purr-fect” pet, the cat!

City Kitty
18 Imperial Pl # 1B
Providence, RI 02903-4642

Phone: (401) 831-6369
Email: email@city-kitty.com

Website: http://www.city-kitty.com/
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Protect Your Cat Against Panleukopenia

Aug 9, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

We were alarmed to hear of an outbreak of Panleukopenia here in Los Angeles last month. This highly contagious cat virus may rear its ugly head in other geographical areas from time to time, so please check with your vet for current reports. Panleukopenia, sometimes referred to as “Distemper” in cats, is a deadly disease that is included in the most common vaccine (FVRCP) administered to kittens and boosted every 1-3 years throughout your cat’s life. We have alerted our clients via the following informative report

What is Panleukopenia?

It’s a highly contagious virus in cats which can live in the environment for months – similar to the canine parvovirus.  It affects cats of all ages, but kittens (age 2-5 months) are most susceptible.  The virus attacks the immune system and intestines of cats.

What are the Symptoms?

Systems can include: fever, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, eating less (or not eating at all), sudden death, and vomiting.

Is Panleukopenia Contagious?

Yes! Cats can begin showing symptoms 2-14 days after exposure to virus while humans can NOT get the disease.  Adult cats can become infected and can be contagious without showing any signs of being sick.

How is Panleukopenia transmitted?

It is transmitted by:

  • Direct contact with infected cats (respiratory secretions, feces)
  • Contaminated environment— even cat carriers!
  • Contaminated human hands and clothes
  • Pre-natal—a mother can transmit the virus to her unborn kittens
  • Infected cats can still shed the virus up to 6 weeks after they recover

How can I protect my cat?

You can protect your cat by:

  • Isolating any cats with the above symptoms
  • Contacting your local veterinarian
  • NOT sharing cat carriers or other equipment
  • Avoiding products claiming to work against Canine Parvovirus (quaternary ammonium) – these products may not completely kill the virus
  • Cleaning all shared equipment with diluted bleach (1/2 cup per 1 gallon water). Allowing bleach to sit for 10 minutes on equipment
  • Making sure all cats are up-to-date on vaccination
  • Not combining litters of kittens
  • Washing hands frequently

How is Panleukopenia Diagnosed?

The Canine Parvovirus can be used to diagnose this infection.  It is a rapid test that can be done in the hospital using a fecal sample or rectal swab

Dr Elyse Kent

Dr. Elyse Kent graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and completed an Internship at West Los Angeles Veterinary Medical Group in 1981.

In her early years in practice, Dr. Kent began to see a need for a separate medical facility just for cats, where fear and stress would be reduced for feline patients. In 1985, in a former home in Santa Monica, Dr. Kent opened the only exclusively feline veterinary clinic in Los Angeles, Westside Hospital for Cats (WHFC). Along with other forward-thinking feline practitioners from across North America, Dr. Kent founded the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1991. Through the efforts of these practitioners, feline medicine and surgery became a certifiable species specialty through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Dr. Kent became board certified in Feline Practice in the first group to sit for the Feline exam in 1995. She certified for an additional ten (10) years in 2005. There are now 78 feline specialists in the world. Dr. Kent served as the Feline Regent and Officer on the Council of Regents for 9 years. She is currently the immediate Past President of the ABVP, which certifies all species specialists. She also heads up a task force joining certain efforts of the ABVP with The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). She currently serves as a Director on the Executive Board of The American Association of Feline Practitioners.

The present day WHFC facility opened in 2000. It was the fulfillment of a vision for a spacious, delightful, state of the art, full service cat medical center that Dr. Kent had dreamed of and planned for over many years.

Westside Hospital for Cats
2317 Cotner Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Phone: 310-479-2428

Website: http://www.westsidehospitalforcats.com/
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Help! I’m Allergic to my Cat!

Aug 5, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Every week I have cat lovers that come in to see me that confide they are allergic to their cat. I can relate- I am allergic to cats and I have been a cat only veterinarian for 25 years! Here are some tips to keep you and your favorite kitty together while reducing the sneezing and wheezing you experience. Most people react to the cat saliva and dander more than the fur itself, so even cats with little fur such as the Cornish Rex and the Sphinx can cause reactions in sensitive people. Of course, if your cat allergies are severe or cause life threatening issues such as asthma, please seek the advice of your physician!

  1. Invest in a HEPA filter unit attached to your furnace and air conditioner or free standing room HEPA filters. These filters remove cat dander, dust, dust mites and other small particles from the air and reduce the amount that you breathed in. Change the filter as directed to keep it working well.
  2. If at all possible, keep your bedroom a cat free zone. Most people spend a third of their life in bed. Keeping your kitty out of the room can help you wake out breathing freely rather than congested. I cannot say I always practice what I preach with this rule, but for many people it can make a big difference.  Wash your bedding frequently in hot water if your cat does sleep with you.
  3. Since many people that are allergic to cats are also allergic to pollens (hay fever), keeping the windows closed and the air conditioner on during the spring summer and fall can reduce pollens in the house. Allergy symptoms are often additive- your cat allergy may be seem worse when the pollen counts are high or when the house is dusty, so minimize all allergens as much as possible.
  4. Bathing your cat weekly in warm water to remove the dander and saliva from its coat. Shampoo is not usually needed but if used it should be a gentle cat shampoo not a human shampoo. There are also sponge on or wipe type products available to help remove cat dander form the cat’s skin. Most of these products however have not been clinically tested and can actually in some cases cause irritation of the cat’s skin.
  5. Have a washable sheet or towel where your cat sleeps and wash it weekly in hot water to remove the cat dander.
  6. Vacuum the carpet frequently using a vacuum with a filter to limit dust in the house. Keep the house as dust free as possible and encase pillow and mattresses with dust mite covers. Choosing hard surface flooring rather than carpet can help with cleaning and dander control.
  7. Anti- histamines and allergy shots can help control allergic symptoms for many people. My own cat allergies have responded well to allergy shots along with anti-histamines as needed. Researchers are working on breeding non allergenic cats, but until then, give these suggestions a try!
  8. Finally, a little extra good news- a recent study came out showing that children are less likely to develop allergies in households with pets- hopefully this means our cat loving children will not need to worry about cat allergies unlike their parents!

Dr Tammy Sadek

Dr Tammy Sadek is board certified in Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr Sadek graduated at the top of her veterinary class at the University Of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced feline medicine and surgery for over 25 years. Dr Sadek is the owner and founder of two cat hospitals in the Grand Rapids, MI area, the Kentwood Cat Clinic and the Cat Clinic North.

In addition to her cat hospitals, Dr Sadek hosts a website www.litterboxguru.com dedicated to helping cat owners prevent and correct litter box issues along with other behavioral issues with their pets.

Dr Sadek is the author of several chapters in the book Feline Internal Medicine Secrets. Her professional interests include senior cat care, internal medicine, feline behavior, and dermatology.

Dr Sadek is currently owned by 5 cats. In addition to caring for all her feline friends, Dr Sadek enjoys traveling, jewelry making, reading fantasy and science fiction, and gardening. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two soon to fledge children.

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