Archive from December, 2012

On the Third Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Dec 27, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Three Family Parties: How to Help your Cat Avoid the Emergency Room this Holiday (pt. 3)

If you missed out on the previous parts:

Depending on how you feel about your family, you may just want to crawl under the bed with your terrified cat when the time comes for holiday parties and family get-togethers. Depending on your cat, these parties can be fun or they can be extremely traumatic. Some cats hide for days after a party.

If you are planning a boisterous holiday party with lots of guests, you might want to consider boarding your cat during the holiday. Otherwise, to help a shy cat cope, you can prepare a sanctuary in advance – a bed, food, water and litter – in a low-traffic area, a closet or the basement where sounds will be more muffled, and plan to keep them in their sanctuary for the duration of the party. Feline pheromone spray or a diffuser and items with your kitty’s own smell on them will help create a calming scent. Show your cat this area before the big day so she will know it’s her safe place. Cats that are frightened because of large numbers of people might dash for the door, or curious cats may slip outside along with an unwary visitor. This is an excellent reason why even indoor cats benefit from being microchipped. It is also a good idea to request that family members keep their own pets at home. Cats are creatures of habit, and the holidays are stressful enough without having an interloper to deal with. In addition, the last thing that you want to be doing just before Christmas dinner is rushing your cat to the ER with a bite wound if the animals decide that they don’t want to play nicely anymore.

Other concerns about holiday parties and visitors include inappropriate elimination. Some cats will urinate or defecate outside the box when they are overly stressed or anxious – another reason to consider isolating your cat in its sanctuary or planning to board her.

If you have specific concerns, antianxiety drug therapy could be discussed with your veterinarian. There are many calming medications available, ranging from human anti-anxiety drugs to herbal and homeopathic supplements, so you and your veterinarian can discuss which option would be most effective for your cat.

If you will be traveling throughout the holidays and your cat is not going with you, the most ideal option for pet care is to have a non-traveling family member stay in the home with the cat. This allows the cat the comfort of a familiar face and surroundings to provide the least interruption of his or her normal routine. A qualified pet sitter is the next best choice – someone who is trained to recognize signs of illness. Ideally, the sitter would stay in your home with the cat, or visit a minimum of twice daily for 30 minutes or more.  The third option would be for cat owners to board their pets at a reputable feline-only boarding facility. There are a lot of holiday hazards that a cat can get into at this time of year, so cats should not be left alone unattended. Cats with medical problems and daily medications should not be without their medications at this time of high stress.

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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Top Ten Holiday Gifts for your Cat!

Dec 19, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion

According to a 2011 PetFinder.com poll, 58% of people with cats give them presents for the Holidays and 37% of cat owners also hang a stocking!

Are we crazy, or just crazy about our cats? Or is this another way we can share and celebrate with those we love. Here are my favorite Top Ten Holiday Gifts for cats:

10. Toys: Catnip toys are the obvious, and look for those made in the US with fresh, organically grown cat nip! Not all cats respond to cat nip- it appears genetics play a role in that- and it’s worth trying different kinds and fresh vs. dried to see if your cat gets crazy or mellow. See more on toy safety in Dr. Colleran’s recent post.
9. Food: As veterinarians, we’ve all heard the question “What’s the best food for my cat?” Felinedocs.com have had several posts on feline nutrition; bottom line- it depends. On your cat’s age, lifestyle, health status and preferences- each one is an individual and your veterinarian can offer the best proven options! And remember, cats are carnivores and must have some protein that’s of an animal source. Grain-free diets have yet to be scientifically proven to be optimal for your cat’s health and it seems intuitive so we hope those studies are forthcoming!
8. Treats: It’s important to positively reward good behavior (“good Callie, for jumping on your cat tree next to the kitchen counter…”) and repetition of immediate reward will help shape good manners. As with food, be sure the company that manufactures them has quality control measures to help ensure their safely. And be mindful of added calories in treats; make sure you know what your cat’s daily allotment is- somewhere in the range of 200-250 kcal per day for healthy adult cats- and find out just how many there are in those 15-20 Whisker-Lickens…
7. Toys: Interactive toys that allow a cat to express its normal prey behavior are terrific and also provide exercise. Fishing pole type toys, lasers that shine a dot on the floor and walls, and even battery-operated toys that move- some in response to a cat’s movement! Be sure to let your cat “catch” its prey periodically so it’s “rewarded” for its activity.
6. New dinner plate: Yes, as cute as those bowls with little fish painted inside, a flat dish or plate is preferred so their whiskers can remain straight while eating.
5. Water fountain: cats like the movement of water and, like us, can benefit by drinking more. Several companies offer water fountains specifically for cats. I keep looking for one that’s shaped like a toilet…
4. Cat tower or perches: Cats like to go to high places so providing them with vertical height outlets will give them their own “space.” Cat trees or towers come in a variety of designs so check on-line to see what your cat might like. Those which include sisal for scratching and hidey-areas can be very popular!
3. A cat-friendly carrier: Just search the internet on “how to get your cat in a carrier” and you will get 3,330,000 hits in 0.3 second. What’s important is to think like a cat. If it has two openings- front and top are best, if you provide soft bedding (that old fleece of yours is purr-fect- warm, soft and has the scent of “you”), if you keep it out, up and open and warm and let your cat use it as a hiding place (cats like to be off the floor, warm and have an “escape route” available), your cat will come to see its carrier as it’s friend and not run and hide when you bring it in from the garage to go for a car ride. For more information on choosing a carrier and training your cat to it, watch this video – “Cats and Carriers- Friends, not Foes.”
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2. Toys: Did I already mention toys?? Studies have shown that environment enrichment is critical for your cat’s health and well-being. So new toys, and rotating those they have, provide your cat with continual psychological stimulation. For more information on environment enrichment, visit the Indoor Pet Initiative from the Ohio State University.
1. The gift of good health! To ensure your cat lives a long, happy and enriched life, be sure your cat visits its veterinarian at least once a year- even if it seems perfectly fine! Cats give us so many gifts and we can give them the best quality of life “humanly” possible.

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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On the Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Dec 15, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

… Two Toxic Plants: Helping your Cat Avoid the Emergency Room this Holiday (pt. 2)

If you missed out on the previous part:

Many people decorate their homes with festive holiday plants that are gorgeous to look at, but may be deadly if eaten. In addition, many are busy baking and cooking in preparation of big family meals together. Since we’re so busy, sometimes we may not notice if our mischievous cat is trying to snack on something she shouldn’t.

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

Plants

First of all, it is important to note that even non-toxic plants can cause coughing, choking, stomach upset or mild vomiting. Sometimes a leaf can even become lodged in a nostril or scratch or irritate an eye. If your cat eats a plant and needs to seek medical attention, it is always a good idea to bring the plant that was eaten with you to the vet – that way if you are uncertain of the species, your vet may be able to identify it and determine the treatment needed. Also, bringing the plant helps to evaluate exactly how much and what part of the plant was eaten. A tiny bite of a certain plant leaf may be safe, while the berry or flower of the same plant is lethal.

Holiday plants vary in their toxicity. Lilies (all of the Lilium family and Hemerocalis species), amaryllis bulbs and mistletoe are the most dangerous. If you or anyone in your household suspects that your cat may have ingested any part of a lily, no matter how small, please seek immediate veterinary attention. Hesitation may mean the difference between life and death for your cat! If more than 6 hours pass between lily ingestion and treatment, your cat’s chance of recovery decreases from fairly good to guarded-to-poor, and you can expect some long-term kidney damage.

There are several species of mistletoe including Phoradendum and Viscum – some of which are highly toxic and some of which are less so. Any type of mistletoe ingestion should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian.

Holly (Ilex spp.) – certain species contain the methylzanthine Theobromine (also theophylline which is used as a respiratory aid, and caffeine – you know what that does! J) in all parts, but concentrated in the leaves. Theobromine is the toxic substance that is also found in chocolate. Leaves can cause cuts or irritation in the mouth and esophagus. The berries, which contain glucosidic saponins, are mildly toxic to humans in small quantities, but can cause toxicity to varying degrees in pets. It is best to contact a veterinarian if your pet has ingested holly – more about Holly toxicity.

Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) is a decorative species of nightshade with bright red berries that are poisonous.
Poinsettias (Euphorbia) have gotten a bad rap as an extremely poisonous plant due to an urban legend dating back to 1919 – reference for poinsettia myth. They do cause some intestinal upset, but rarely cause death. Pine needles and Christmas cactus usually cause irritation and intestinal upset but are less toxic. The most common signs of plant toxicity are: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and excessive salivation (drooling).

If you have a live tree, Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers or preservatives and stagnant tree water can breed bacteria, but ingestion of a small amount of water does not usually cause severe issues. Covering the water with chicken wire or other mesh allows you to refresh your tree, but prevents your cat from drinking the water. Pine sap is not toxic but is sticky and hard to remove. Cats may lick excessively or pull at their fur if sap becomes adhered to their fur. Vegetable oil works better than shampoo when removing sap from your cat’s fur.

Exposure to plants in the Lily family is far and away the most serious holiday threat. I have seen more deaths in cats due to this, than all the other toxic plants combined.

Some non-toxic winter plants that you can safely place in your home include: Christmas palm (Veitchia merrillii), Christmas orchid (Cattleya trianaei), Christmas dagger fern (Polystichym spp), and Mistletoe cactus (Thipsalis cassutha).

Foods

All members of the genus Allium (onion, garlic, leek, chives, shallots, and scallions) can be poisonous to both dogs and cats. Toxicity can cause damage to the red blood cells (RBC), resulting in Heinz body anemia. In particular, cats are 2 to 3 times more susceptible to RBC damage from these components than other species. While specific studies have not been done with garlic as to the safe levels of ingestion, acute onion toxicosis occurs in animals that eat more than 0.5% of their body weight at one time (less than 2 Tbsp. for a 10lb. cat). However, smaller doses given regularly over a period of time will cause the same problem.

Drinks with milk or cream such as alcoholic eggnog are a concern both because most cats are lactose intolerant and because cats are very sensitive to alcohol due to their small size. Even small amounts of alcohol can be fatal.

Chocolate ingestion can be serious, leading to seizures, if a large quantity is ingested. Chocolate toxicity varies by type of chocolate ingested – baker’s chocolate contains a higher concentration of Theobromine than white chocolate. Any ingestion of chocolate should warrant a call to your veterinarian, however. This is usually less of an issue for cats than dogs since they don’t seem to want to eat pure chocolate, but it should still be kept out of reach.

You should refrain from giving bones to your cats. Unlike dogs, cats do not have the instinct to gnaw on bones – and even dogs can damage or prematurely wear down their teeth with too much bone-chewing. Small bones can cause choking or bowel obstructions. Ingestion of broken bones can cause perforations of the intestinal tract, so if you offer turkey meat, make sure it is boneless.

In addition, the herbs and spices that the turkey or chicken is cooked with can be a problem. Sage is an herb that cats are extremely sensitive to, and can cause an upset stomach or depression of the nervous system. Also, as above, onions and other members of that family can cause anemia. If you want to offer your cat turkey, cook up some unseasoned bits on the side, rather than sharing from the family’s bird. It is doubtful that cats can taste the spices the same way humans can, anyway.

Medications

Medications are not something that people think about as a holiday hazard, but during this chaotic time, when many guests may be staying in your home, be vigilant about any medications that may spill, especially as family members that may be coming to stay may bring in medications that aren’t usually in your house. Cats lack some liver enzymes and metabolize many medications poorly; one Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be fatal to a cat. If your cat is on medications for her own health issues, ingesting additional human medications may interact with those she has already taken with devastating results. If you think your cat has ingested someone’s medication, please call a veterinarian right away. Have the pill vial handy while you are on the phone and bring it with you to your appointment so that you can give all the important information to the doctor about what kind of medication it was, the dose and an estimate of how many pills were in the bottle. Make sure that you are also aware of all the medications your cat normally takes and when the most recent dose was given. If your cat has ingested someone else’s medication and is due for a dose of their own medications, DO NOT give the normal medications until you have spoken with your veterinarian.

Continue to Part 3: On the Third 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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Tissue and Fluid Samples: Why Are They Useful in Diagnosing Diseases?

Dec 13, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Sampling of tissue and subsequent microscopic evaluation of tissue is described as collecting and interpreting a biopsy.  The preparation and evaluation of tissue is performed by a board certified pathologist.  Biopsies are used to evaluate masses and tumors, either inside the body, mouth or ears or on the external surface of the body (dermal or mammary tumors).  Biopsy samples can also be collected from tissue that is red or hairless or ulcerated as a means of differentiating cancer (neoplasia) from inflammatory, traumatized or infected tissue.

Analysis of fluid or a tissue sample is a diagnostic tool used in conjunction with blood and urine tests and imaging (radiographs, ultrasound, CT Scan or MRI) to narrow down a list of potential diseases in a cat.  Microscopic analysis of cells in fluid is referred to as cytology. Microscopic analysis of tissue (biopsy) is referred to as histopathology.  Samples of fluid are “aspirated” with a needle and tissue can be sampled with a small needle and syringe or by an incision that allows tissue to be collected. Fine needle samples of tissue can be collected with direct visualization if accessible to the eye or via one of the imaging systems mentioned above. When a tumor is removed, the entire mass can be submitted to the pathologist to ensure that all tumor cells were removed.  This is referred to as “checking margins” or making sure that “clean margins” are achieved , i.e. all of the cancer was removed.

Fluid samples are collected via a needle and syringe and often used to differentiate causes of abnormal free fluid accumulation in either the chest or abdomen of a cat.  Protein levels, bacterial isolation and microscopic evaluation of cell types are the usual tests done on fluid.  Some types of cancer will “shed” (exfoliate) cells into fluid and the exact cancer can be identified by microscopic evaluation of those cells. Lymphoma, the most common cancer in cats, usually exfoliates in the chest fluid if there is a lymphoma tumor in front of the heart. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal viral (corona virus) disease that can cause abnormal fluid to accumulate in the chest or abdomen or both. FIP fluid has a characteristic yellow color, often contains a white blood cell type called macrophages and has high protein levels.  Congestive heart failure or non-exfoliating cancers like adenocarcinoma, will cause a clear watery fluid to collect in either the abdomen or chest that is free of cells.  Bacterial infection in the chest or abdomen (peritonitis) contains high levels of white blood cells (neutrophils or pus) called neutrophils and the causative bacteria can often be directly visualized inside the neutrophils or macrophages or may be grown on an agar plate (cultured) from the pus. Fluid extracted from around the brain or spinal cord  (cerebrospinal fluid) can be evaluated for inflammatory or cancer cells.

 

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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Why Does my Cat Vomit?

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

Cats are amazing, not just because of all the warm and fuzzy stuff they bring us, like their kisses and purrs, but because they have an incredible ability to hide signs of disease.  It breaks my heart when a loving, concerned owner brings me in a cat that doesn’t look very well and the owner’s response to the questions I ask tell me that this cat has had issues for a lot longer than it should.  Most often the owner thought some of the behavior was normal.  One of those behaviors is when cats vomit.

It is widely accepted that cats can vomit when they are very healthy.  Most often, cat owners associate vomiting with the peaceful grooming most cats love to do.  Yes, it is true that cats can bring up hairballs when they are grooming more than they usually do and they ingest a lot of fur, but cats are meant to groom, so their gastrointestinal tract was designed to handle most of the fur they swallow.  I like to think of the cats’ GI tract as having great housekeeping capabilities.  So, when I find that a cat is vomiting a lot, I am not likely to accept it as normal.  I am not saying that every time a cat vomits there is something very wrong, but I think a cat that vomits regularly, likely needs some help.

Simple causes of vomiting can be the way a cat eats – some almost inhale food!  Many times, moving a cat from canned food to dry food will help since it slows some cats down, or the other way around.  I also ask owners to use bowls like the Brake-Fast bowls, or have owners put a small ball in the cat’s dish which usually get the cat to eat slower.  Cats can also develop sensitivities to a cat food’s ingredients, so trying different foods might be all that is needed to stop a cat from vomiting.  Keep track of how often your cat brings up food or fluid and whether it vomits just after eating (referred to as regurgitation) or whether it can happen hours after eating.  If you make changes in the way you feed and try different diets but vomiting continues, it is time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

The cause of vomiting that I think is most often missed by owners because their cats seem perfectly fine despite vomiting regularly, is a condition called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  IBD is a very complicated condition, because the level of inflammation in the cat’s GI tract that one cat has can be very different than the level of inflammation another cat has.  Along with the difference in the severity of inflammation is the fact that our GI tract and cats’ GI tracts have architectures that are very specific.  The GI tract has an important job, so changes in the architecture due to smoldering inflammation that eventually alters the main function of the GI tract, which is to absorb nutrients, can lead to devastating consequences that can also involve other important organs. When inflammation occurs, the changes are not always the same, so the treatment can vary. This means that your veterinarian is likely to recommend diagnostic tests that will figure out what the best way is to treat your cat.

So, if your cat vomits regularly or a friend tells you their cat vomits regularly, remember that it really isn’t normal for a cat to vomit often.  I think that cat needs to see a veterinarian as soon as possible!

Dr Diane Eigner

Diane Eigner graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1980. Dr. Eigner established her exclusively feline practice, The Cat Doctor, in Philadelphia in 1983, and began offering house call services at the Jersey Shore in 1991. She is a past president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School Alumni Society, a Past President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and is a member of the advisory board of Harcum Junior College’s Veterinary Technical School. Diane has been the consulting veterinarian for the Morris Animal Refuge since 1983. Doctor Eigner’s column “Ask The Cat Doctor” appeared in the Cat Fancier’s Almanac from 1996-2000. Diane joined the Catalyst Council’s board as the American Association of Feline Practitioner’s representative in 2009. She is now serving as the immediate past-chair of the Catalyst Council.

An avid Sailor, Diane loves nothing better than to be at the Jersey shore where she keeps her sailboat, Purrfect, and where she has a second home. Since meeting her husband, Fred Turoff, Temple University’s Men’s gymnastics team head coach, her family life has been dominated by men’s gymnastics. Her son Evan is a level ten gymnast that competes nationally and will join her husband’s division I men’s gymnastics team in the fall.. Diane also shares her life with three very entertaining cats. Though she shouldn’t have a favorite, her Sphynx cat, Velvet, which she rescued at the shelter where she consults, is the cat love of her life. Her integrated home also includes a Welsh Corgi named Twinks, two Cornish Rex cats, Naui and Padi and a Russian Tortoise.

The Cat Doctor
535 North 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Phone: (215) 561-7668
Fax: (215) 561-3616
Email: meow@thecatdr.com

Website: http://www.thecatdr.com
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The Diet That Suddenly Works

Dec 5, 2012 by     4 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

My last blog was about dieting, but a more serious concern is the diet that suddenly starts producing results without having changed your cat’s dietary routine. Diets don’t suddenly start working on their own and you cannot wish those pounds away (or we all might be “svelte”). Basically we are talking about what we call “unexplained weight loss”.

Unexplained weight loss is exactly that. Weight loss without a good (or known) cause. The list of causes of unexplained weight loss is fairly long, however, we can usually narrow it down with a little detective work.

Cats, by nature, are stoic and they will not tell you that they are sick until they have to, so you need to be a detective at home as well. Very often the only sign of illness is weight loss. Your cat will try to tell you that everything is fine, but the scale will tell you otherwise.

Being a veterinary detective, we start with the obvious- diet. Have you changed how and what you are feeding your cat? If so, did this change result in fewer calories fed?

Is your cat choosing to eat less on his/her own? A decreased appetite is not specific to any particular disease, but is important information. Is your cat having difficulty eating? This could indicate and underlying dental problem (although most cats will continue to eat normally in the face of advanced dental disease).

Is your cat having intestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhea)? This will interfere with proper digestion of food.

Is your cat drinking and urinating more than usual? This could indicate (most commonly) diabetes or an underlying kidney infection.

Is your cat eating more and/or stealing food, yet losing weight? This can be consistent with an overactive thyroid gland or diabetes.

Is your cat on a regular deworming program? Has your cat had a recent fecal test? Parasites can cause weight loss, however, unless there is an overwhelming infection, they are unlikely to cause a drastic weight loss.

These observations are very important and should be shared with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will need to perform a comprehensive examination on your feline friend. Very often a comprehensive examination along with a detailed history will help narrow the list of suspected diseases help develop a plan to uncover the problem.

In most cases an internal organ screen (blood and urine test) will be necessary. These screening tests give your veterinarian a lot of information – almost like an internal examination.

In some cases radiographs (x-rays) are needed. One of the causes of unexplained weight loss in seemingly healthy cats includes tumors in the chest. The chest is one area that cannot be palpated (or felt) during the examination because it is protected by the rib cage. Chest tumors can grow to a substantial size before causing obvious outward symptoms. An x-ray is necessary to check for chest tumors.

Once the screening test results are in hand, your veterinarian can either start treatment or discuss what additional testing (if any) is necessary. In most cases, if you have screened the blood, urine and stool and have normal x-rays and have still not found the cause of the weight loss, the next step is an abdominal ultrasound.

Ultrasound is a safe and painless way to evaluate internal organs in more detail. While x-rays show us the shape and position of the internal organs, an ultrasound can give us details of the internal parts of the organs. In cases of unexplained weight loss, we are especially concerned about the intestinal tract (one area where blood tests can’t accurately evaluate). The ultrasound can detect changes in the intestines and other organs and help pinpoint problems. While ultrasound will not always give you an exact diagnosis (a biopsy may be needed for this), it will provide a great deal of information and can help direct treatment, provide a prognosis (an idea of what to expect in the future) and other options to obtain a specific diagnosis.

Sometimes it is hard for cat owners to decide how far to go with testing. If you are unsure if you want to pursue an ultrasound and/or biopsy you need to discuss this with your veterinarian. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Our role as veterinarians is to help you make educated decisions about health care for your cats. Make a list of your questions and your concerns to review in your discussion. The most common question I get is “what will we do differently based on the results?” It isn’t possible to discuss treatments for every possible outcome of the testing, but it’s important to know that the results will be helpful.

So please watch your cat’s weight and be a veterinary detective at home. If your cat experiences unexplained weight loss, gather information and make an appointment with your veterinarian. It is much better for you and your cat if we can detect and treat a disease earlier than if we wait for your cat to show signs of illness. Unsure if your cat’s weight has changed? Most bathroom scales are not accurate enough to detect small changes in weight for cats. Either purchase an infant scale to use at home or call your veterinarian to see if you can bring your cat in to be weighed.

Dr Diana Lafer

Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

Cats Limited Hospital
1260 New Britain Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06110

Phone: (860) 561-9885
Email: cats@catslimited.com

Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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How to Tell When a Cat is in Pain

Dec 1, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

I was asked the other day how can you tell when a cat is in pain.  As I sit here with my left foot wrapped in a bandage and throbbing, I think what a great question.

Anyone who looks at me can tell that I am uncomfortable and in pain.  But when my 18 year old cat has a hard time getting up on the bed is he in pain?

So we need to go back to how humans evolved and how cats evolve.  Early humans formed groups to help each other hunt and protect themselves.  With my swollen foot, I would not be much help and could actually alert predators to our location. It is good thing that everyone can tell I am not up to speed and that I should stay home.

Cats evolved as solitary hunters.  They did not hunt in groups.  They are small prey to larger animals.  Their strategy of looking like they are on top of the world was a great one.

In modern times, this strategy makes it extremely challenging to tell when our cats need our help. Many times there is not a clue until things are very advanced.

As veterinarians, we know that surgery is painful.  We treat preemptively and ensure that our patients do not sure any hurt. This seems to be a smart and reasonable thing to do and we can use many of the techniques that are used for humans.

What about chronic pain?  This is where it gets harder.  First, it is challenging to see the pain because of that solitary hunter strategy.

Sometimes if things seem different – such as not getting on the bed. Other signs could be not using the litter box. You may want to discuss trying pain management for your cat.

Contact your veterinarian to find out about all the different modalities available to help your cat be pain free.

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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