Archive from November, 2012

Cat Toys – How Curiosity Kills the Roll

Nov 28, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

My cat Bo has an irritating behavior that I have learned to live with. When he can, he will unravel all the toilet paper on the dispenser and spread it all over the floor of the bathroom. He does it because it is fun and each time he grabs the roll more paper unravels which is reward enough to keep doing it. He never tires of the trick.

Toys for cats should be like that, interesting and rewarding. Playing with your cat is not only a pleasure for you but an important part of life for your cat. Some people complain that their cat will walk away after playing for only a few minutes. Play is a mimic for the hunting behavior that is part of all cats’ normal repertoire. Each hunt is brief and intense, so play periods should be the same. He is not losing interest, just taking a break. Many short play periods through the day are just what they need to spend big bursts of energy. Playing for a little while and often is perfect.

Cats are naturally curious. Anything that looks different, moves rapidly or sounds intriguing are worthy of investigation. A variety of toys that move or sound like mice or birds can keep their attention. Many toys are free and quite satisfying for a cat. A paper bag on the floor can be just the thing to climb into and investigate.

Play is essential, almost as much as eating and drinking. Stimulating toys available in safe places in the house are key.  A scratching post with toys attached, a cat tree high enough to play safely away from unfamiliar animals or people, and interactive play with people make a great difference in quality of life for cats indoors.

Our domesticated cats are closer to their original ancestors from 10,000 years ago than any other domesticated animal. That means they are the same wild cats just in a dramatically different  environment, our homes. So providing them the opportunity to act out their normal feline behavior in ways that are safe and acceptable to us is a critical part of life and mean that our cats will have wonderful, emotionally satisfying lives.

Dr Elizabeth Colleran

Diplomate ABVP Specialty in Feline Practice

Dr Colleran attained both her Masters (in Animals and Public Policy) and Doctorate from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She opened Chico Hospital for Cats in 1998 and the Cat Hospital of Portland in 2003. In 2011, she became President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Dr Colleran is a member with: American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Association of Feline Practitionesr.

Chico Hospital for Cats
548 W East Ave,
Chico, CA

Phone: 530-892-2287‎

Website: http://chicocats.com/
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Cat Hospital of Portland
8065 SE 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97202

Phone: 503-235-7005
Fax: 503-234-0042

Website: http://portlandcats.net/
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On the First Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Nov 24, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

… a Cat in a Christmas Tree: Helping your Cat avoid the Emergency Room this Holiday (pt. 1):

While most people enjoy the holiday season of friends, family, feasting and frivolity, your cat may not feel the same way. The holidays are a time when we are busier than usual, so our cats may be bored and looking for excitement. In addition, we bring lots of new fun (and hazardous) toys into the house. What a perfect opportunity for your cat to get into some mischief!

Here are some of the top holiday items that cats love to play with (but shouldn’t!):

Ribbons

Cats love to play with ribbons and tinsel, but they can be devastating if swallowed, knotting up and clogging the intestinal tract. Tinsel, especially the loose “icicle” type, should be avoided if you have cats in your household.

Any ribbon-play should be supervised. Make sure that all package-wrapping materials are put away where the cat cannot access them when you are done wrapping. Once the packages are wrapped, make sure the cat is not nibbling at the ribbons and bows under the tree, or wherever the presents are displayed.

If you notice a string or ribbon hanging out of your cat’s mouth or rear end, do not attempt to pull it out. If the string is knotted up inside, tugging on it can cause devastating trauma to the intestinal tract. Seek a veterinarian’s care immediately if you suspect your cat has swallowed a length of ribbon, string or tinsel.

Signs that your cat may have been “Naughty” instead of “Nice” include vomiting, especially multiple times in a row, or unproductive vomiting, lethargy, depression, fever, poor appetite or refusal of food, or a tense or painful abdomen (vocalization when picked up, sitting in unusual positions, hiding).

Ornaments

Fragile ornaments, especially those made of glass, may be broken and ingested, as can the ribbon, hooks or wire holding the ornaments on the tree. If you have a young cat, it is best to put a tree up first, before decorating it. If the kitten shows any inclination to climb the tree, you may want to minimize how many family heirlooms you hang on it! Also, you may want to stabilize the tree by attaching a guide wire to the wall so that the cat doesn’t knock it over. If it is possible to keep your tree behind closed doors, all the better, but many cats do begin to ignore the tree after they have thoroughly investigated it. Hang the most non-breakable and “boring” ornaments at the bottom of the tree where they are in the cat’s line of sight, and the most interesting ones where the cat is less likely to see them. Ornaments that move on their own should be avoided, unless your cat is uninterested in the tree as they are more tempting than regular ornaments.

Liquid Potpourri

Liquid potpourri can be toxic to the liver as well as causing burns if heated. Additionally, the cationic detergent in liquid potpourri is a corrosive substance and can cause severe chemical burns to the skin or eyes. Part of the concern about liquid potpourri is that it is an oily substance that is not easy to remove quickly and will remain on the skin and hair coat, continuing to cause damage as you try to remove it. Cats that have skin contact with liquid potpourri should be immediately bathed in mild liquid dishwashing soap, with special attention paid to the area between the toes since they may have walked in the potpourri. It should be assumed that if the cat has potpourri on its skin, it has probably tried to groom itself and will likely have eaten some, which is a much more critical problem. Liquid potpourri can cause severe ulceration of the mouth, tongue and esophagus, some of which may not become apparent until several hours after exposure. Cats that have been affected with liquid potpourri should see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Candles

Candle flames are hypnotizing to cats and look like great toys to a cat. Make sure they are placed in areas where the cat cannot play with them and burn a paw, singe off all its eyebrow whiskers, or knock them over and start a fire. For those with extra-curious cats, a battery-operated candle may be a better option.

Cords

Electric light cords may also be tempting to cats but can cause serious burns in the mouth if chewed. Keeping cords hidden and out of reach will help. “Bitter Apple” is a spray that is available at most pet stores that has a bitter taste to discourage your cat from chewing on cords. You can also wrap dangling cords with bubble wrap or double-sided tape to discourage chewing. Cords can also be a strangulation hazard.

Walk around your house with your cat in mind, and remove possible hazards from temptation. Make sure to take a few extra moments each day and spend some time with your cat. Keeping your cat feeling like he is still the center of the universe will help prevent boredom and the need to find new things to play with. The holidays are a busy time, but a few extra moments’ consideration can save you and your cat from a devastating situation.

Continue to Part 2: On the Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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Steroid Use in Cats: Is it Dangerous?

Nov 11, 2012 by     37 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Ms. Worry set up a consultation with me, Dr. Catz, to discuss the use of Prednisolone in her cat, Hershey Squirts.  My manager, Ms. E. Calm held the phone far away from her ear as Ms. Worry screamed that she thought the prescription from Dr. Catz for steroids would shorten Squirts’ life. Ms. Worry said her mother’s face had become permanently bloated and she had terrible mood swings when she was prescribed steroids for her asthma.

What are steroids?

Steroids are natural substances produced by the adrenal glands.

Corticosteroids are the type used for therapy in cats. Anabolic (performance-enhancing) steroids are not used in feline practice.

There are also synthetic steroids that are used to treat a variety of feline diseases.  The most common steroids used in feline medicine are prednisolone, dexamethasone, triamcinolone and budesonide.  Methylprednisolone is a slow release “repositol” steroid that is largely no longer used in cats since the risk is much greater for potential adverse effects than with thee shorter acting oral steroids.  Once given, a long acting injection can’t be reversed.

Steroids have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects.

Some of the allergic conditions treated successfully with steroids in cats:

  • Allergic reactions to environmental stimuli, either by contact or inhalation
  • Flea allergic dermatitis
  • Allergic bronchitis
  • Allergic reactions to bee stings or spider bites

Inflammation causing acute or chronic pain can be treated with steroids:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Trauma, especially to the head
  • Disc problems
  • Soft tissue injuries like sprains or strains
  • Gingivitis

Prednisolone is often used in combination with other drugs for cancer treatment in cats.

Steroids may be used to stop the process of immune-destruction by slightly reducing an overactive immune response.

Some of the diseases in this category are:

  • Stomatitis (inflammation in the mouth)
  • Pemphigus (skin disease affecting ears, nose and anus)
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Certain kidney diseases

Corticosteroids are not “strong” medicines and are commonly used very effectively in treating many disorders in feline medicine, ranging from minor to life-threatening problems.

Most of the time, relatively high doses are used initially to achieve an effect, then tapered to the lowest dose and frequency needed to keep clinical signs at bay. Tapering allows the body to adapt to having the steroids removed from the body. Sometimes steroids can be stopped entirely at the end of the taper and other times are they are required long term. Some are started up as needed on a “pulse” or temporary basis when a disease “flares up”

Fortunately, cats are extremely resistant to the side effects of steroids.

The annoying side effects that dogs may experience rarely if ever occur in cats unless a profound overdose of steroids are prescribed.  The common side effects in dogs are increased hunger, thirst and urination, panting, pot-bellied appearance, lethargy,  and thinning of the skin.

Adverse effects of steroids in cats are relatively uncommon and almost always reversible.

The most common potential adverse effect of steroids in cats is diabetes mellitus.  This usually only occurs in cats that are already predisposed to diabetes, especially in those who are obese and/or on high carbohydrate diets. A feline doctor will require a baseline blood glucose level prior to starting corticosteroids and will monitor blood glucose levels periodically as long as the drug is continued.  The interval between glucose tests is dependent on the risks in a given patient as well as the dose required to control disease in that cat. If diabetes does show up secondary to steroid use, it will almost always go away after the drug is tapered and discontinued.   Some steroids have less systemic (whole body) side effects, notably budesonide when compared to the more commonly used prednisolone, and can still be used safely in some patients who have become diabetic while on prednisolone.  Also, steroid inhalers used for allergic bronchitis (Feline Asthma) have fewer systemic effects than oral steroids.

A less common side effect of corticosteroid use is to uncover hidden congestive heart failure (CHF).   If heart disease is undetected (occult), especially if a heart murmur is not heard, fluid can rapidly fill up the lungs causing labored breathing and distress after a steroid injection is given. If the patient is promptly seen by a vet on an emergency basis and CHF is diagnosed by a chest x-ray, oxygen therapy and diuretic injections generally cause the fluid to be urinated out and an echocardiogram can be performed to further define the heart condition.

One additional potential adverse effect is infection due to immunosuppression if high doses of steroids are needed to control an overactive/destructive immune response (diseases described earlier).  Infections may develop due to less than optimal immunity. Frequently these are upper respiratory infections (cold symptoms).  The combination of tapering and discontinuing use of the steroid and adding in antibiotics generally lead to resolution of the infection without complications.

Ms. Calm directed Ms. Worry to read this blog entry prior to her consult with Dr. Catz.  Ms. Worry reluctantly started prednisolone daily for 14 days and Squirt’s diarrhea resolved.  At his two week recheck, Dr. Catz began to taper the dose and frequency of  Squirt’s medication and explained that half the original dose given every 48 to 72 hours is likely to be well tolerated without serious side effects for the rest of Squirt’s life.

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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I am Marcus and I Have Arthritis.

Nov 8, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

September, 2012

Hi, my name is Marcus. I am 13 years old, and the grumpy old man of my household. I used to be the baby of the house, but now I have 3 younger sibling cats “ the brats”. They annoy me tremendously.  As I have gotten older, my joints ache. I am a lot stiffer. It is hard to get up and down the stairs. It is also harder to jump up to my favorite place by the window on the sofa back. I spend most of my time hanging out under the chairs and in the closet where the younger cats don’t bother me. If they do find me I usually hiss at them and if they really bug me I will take a swat at them. When the weather is cold, or pressure changes occur, I hurt more. I am NOT going to show anyone especially my 3 younger nemeses that I am painful because they will harass me more. If I went outside some bigger predator would catch me and eat me.

I am not usually going to limp. I am just not going to move around very much. When I am really uncomfortable I will sometimes pee or poop outside the box. I have a hard time squatting low enough to keep everything inside the box so sometimes I go over the edge. It is also hard for me to get down to the basement to the litter box. I hate the clay gravelly litter my people give me because it hurts my arthritic feet. It is also hard for me to get into the small hooded box. Sometimes I don’t even go down to the box because I don’t want to go by the ratty younger cats. Then I go in a corner. I don’t groom myself much and sometimes get mats or greasy fur because I can’t turn around very well or reach my belly and back end.  I even get a little cranky when my mom picks me up because it hurts my back. She just told me she is taking me to the vet because I am 13 and need a tune up. I think the vet was nagging her too.

November, 2012

I am king of my home again! I have to admit; I really am not too keen on the whole vet visit. I have got to admit, though, that my vet does tell me how great I am. She really has helped my mom help me feel better!  I know I am not alone with my arthritis- the vet said 92% of older cats have some arthritis. My mom gives me a new food called J/D that over the last couple months has made me almost as flexible as when I was a young cat about town. It tastes pretty good, and it also makes my coat look great. The vet said it is because of the really high levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the food. On the days when my joints are the most painful, my mom also gives me prescription pain medication (aspirin and acetaminophen are poisonous to all cats). I know that if I start losing ground and become more painful, my mom is going to start me on a glucosamine oral supplement in my canned food as well. If I don’t like it, she said I would get Adequan injections at home as well. Adequan helps cartilage heal itself. I also love the fact that my mom put a litter box with soft unscented clumping litter upstairs for me as well so I don’t have to go up and down the stairs. (The brats like it too). She put a heated pet bed where I like to sleep too. Now I feel good enough to sleep on my mom’s bed again. I even play with those young cats (they are a little bratty though). I can hear then coming since my mom put break away belled collars on them.  Most important, I feel good! Old cats rule, young ones drool!

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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