Archive from March, 2013

Feline Sense and Scents-ability: Taste and Smell (Part 2 of 4)

Mar 31, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

If you missed it: Feline Sense and Scents-ability: Hearing (Part 1 of 4)

Cats rarely chew on plants, compared to dogs, because the main draw that plants provide is their sweet sugar content. Cats not only fail to taste sweet things, they also deal with sugars poorly in other ways – among other things, they lack a sugar digestion enzyme that both dogs and people have called “glucokinase” which helps break down sugars inside the cells.

Because cats can’t taste sweets, they don’t really “enjoy” sugary snacks the way we would. The inclusion of carbohydrates in cat food has become a very “hot topic” in feline nutrition – while corn and other carbohydrate sources, blueberries, kelp and cranberries may contain many beneficial nutrients, cats likely do not appreciate the flavor, and in some cases it is not certain how well they digest these ingredients.

Most cats prefer canned diets in which the first several ingredients are meat-based. Canned food is better for cats than dry diets because it contains a high water content (about 80%), which helps maintain a lower urine specific gravity (less “stuff” in the urine), which helps protect the kidneys and can help prevent urinary crystals and stones. Most of the cats that we see at Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital who are urinating outside the box and have bladder stones or uncomfortable crystals in their urine are eating a dry-food-only diet.

Something else to note – cats do not like bitter taste any more than people do. If you use baking soda in your litter box as a deodorizer and your cat starts eliminating elsewhere, you might stop adding the baking soda to the box. It is quite bitter in taste, and while cats don’t eat litter, they do groom their paws after using the box, so can associate the bad taste of the baking soda with using the litter!

In 2005, a study was done that discovered the entire cat family is lacking the gene for tasting the flavor “sweet”. They have taste buds in that region of the tongue, but they do not function. Cats do taste salty, sour and bitter. Their favorite tastes are salty and sour. Some cats are drawn to “sweet” foods, but it is likely the fat content vs. the flavor that they like.

Their sense of taste is much duller than ours as well – where a human tongue has over 9,000 taste buds, a cat has only 473! The cat may make up for this lack of taste buds with the small Jacobson’s organ at the front of its mouth – a “vomeronasal” organ which is slightly different than either smell or taste. You can see the ducts leading to this organ in the roof of your cat’s mouth behind the upper incisors. The organ sits right at the front of the mouth and connects to the nasal passages. Snakes, elephants and horses also have this organ, among other animals. Humans, it seems, do not have a working vomeronasal organ. To use it most effectively, the cat passes air over the front of the tongue and then touches the tongue to this sensory organ to deposit pheromone molecules there. You can see your cat using this organ when it wrinkles its lips, opens its mouth and slightly sticks its tongue out when “smelling” an area where it finds an interesting smell.

With 200 million odor-sensitive cells in its nose, compared to a human’s paltry five million, a cat’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than ours. However, they don’t hold a candle to a dog’s smelling ability. Dogs have between 149 million and 300 million receptors. Still, smell is one of a cat’s more important senses. Because smell is so important to cats, a stuffed up nose can be extremely detrimental! If a cat can’t smell his food, he is highly likely to turn his nose up at it. Conversely, a scented litter that we find to be pleasantly fresh-smelling is like drowning in perfume to a cat’s sensitive schnozz.

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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Feline Sense and Scents-ability: Hearing (Part 1 of 4)

Mar 28, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Cat ears

Even though cats have the same five senses humans do, their perception of the world is much different. Sometimes, trying to understand a cat’s point of view can help shed some light on problems you may be having with your cat.

Feline hearing is functionally the same as human hearing. The pinna, or outer portion of the ear, collects sound waves and translates them down the ear canal. In humans, the ear canal is a straight shot to the ear drum, while cats have a vertical canal connected to a horizontal canal in an “L” shape from the top of the head, straight down and then turning inward. Once the sound waves have rounded the corner of the ear canal, they cause the eardrum to vibrate, stimulating the ossicles of the middle ear (tiny bones called the malleus, incus and stapes – otherwise known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup). These ossicles transmit the sound waves to the cochlea.

The cochlea is a fluid-filled structure in the middle ear. The sound waves are translated to fluid waves in the cochlea that are then sensed by nerves connected to fine hairs that float in the fluid and is then sent on to the brain for interpretation. This is the area that a human “cochlear implant” stimulates to help correct hearing loss. The feline cochlea has 3 complete turns while the human cochlea only has 2.75 turns. They have 10,000 more auditory nerves than humans. Near the cochlea is another fluid- and carbonate crystal-filled structure called the vestibular apparatus that is in charge of balance.

Cats are exquisitely adept at locating prey. They can distinguish between two different sound sources 8 cm apart (shorter than the length of an iPhone) at 2 yards and 40cm apart (about 1 foot, or a little longer than 3 iPhones) at 20 yards. They can hear a rustling mouse 20-30 yards away. They can hear 10 distinct octaves of notes vs. humans’ 8.5 octaves. They even hear one octave above their canine counterparts.

There are 4 sets of muscles that control the motion of the cat’s external ear flap, or pinna, and allow it to rotate 180 degrees to catch a sound and orient on it. You can use this information to make playtime more interesting for your cat. Make “hide and seek” with toys more challenging by using quieter, less obvious “prey”. Test your cat’s auditory awareness with a tiny crinkle from a crinkle-toy. See if they notice.

Even though you think they can’t hear you, don’t yell at your cat! He can hear you, he just isn’t listening to you.

When your cat is sleeping it is still attentively listening, scanning for audible information, which is why your “soundly sleeping cat” is standing right at your feet the second you open a can of food.

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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Poop Kentucky Derby

Mar 24, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Personal Opinion

Ever wonder why your cat sprints out of the litter box after voiding or even around the house out of the blue?

Cats have different types of behaviors, but certainly play behaviors are one of the most interesting.  Different play behaviors will begin as early as 2 weeks of age. Chasing type behaviors manifest around 5 weeks of age and serve to improve hunting skills, social interactions with other cats and general exercise.

Most owners have seen their cats sprint around the house as if they are chasing or being chased by another cat with their pupils dilated and perhaps even pausing to yowl or chortle.

This type of behavior is termed “hallucinatory” behavior and often occurs immediately after your cat urinates or defecates.  There are different theories as to why the behavior occurs upon exiting the box, including a feeling of well being and increased energy after evacuation, a sense of empowerment after creating their characteristic scent, or a reminder of natural instincts requiring leaving the scene and scent behind quickly to prevent being preyed upon.

However, sometimes the behavior can be associated with dislike of the box size or location, dislike of the type of litter, fear of attack by other cats in the household, pain associated with urination or defecation or sometimes fecal matter adhering to the hair after defecation.

If your cat spends at least 15-20 seconds scratching or burying in the box, chances are they are happy with their litter.  Cats that have pain on urination or defecation will often times vocalize in a distressed manner and may urinate or defecate outside the box as well.   Occasionally small drops of blood may even be seen. Inappropriate elimination, (urinating or defecating in locations other than the box), will also tend to occur if the box is not clean enough, or if there is fear of another cat in the household. Long haired or overweight cats that have trouble removing fecal matter during or after defecation may rush out of the box and then stop suddenly and begin grooming the perineal area or scooting to remove the fecal matter.

Regular veterinary exams and laboratory evaluations can help rule out pain secondary to arthritis, gastrointestinal problems such as parasites or inflammatory bowel diseases, urinary disorders and even behavior problems within the household.

Keeping your cat healthy and fit will improve activity and provide years of fun for the whole family watching these fast and furious felines as they “run for the roses”.

Dr Cindy McManis

Dr. Cynthia McManis received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University in 1985. She developed her interest in cats during her first year post-graduation. She began to actively pursue more education and information regarding feline health care and joined the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1989. When the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners approved feline practice as a specialty board in 1995, she was in the first class to sit for the exam. She is 1 of 90 board certified feline practitioners in the country at this time. Dr. McManis founded Just Cats Veterinary Services in 1994.

Outside of her clinic cases, she is a feline internal medicine consultant for Veterinary Information Network, a web based resource for veterinarians all over the world. She has also served on several committees within the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). She established an ABVP residency site at Just Cats in 2008 and mentors new graduates as well as seasoned practitioners who are interested in achieving ABVP certification.

Dr. McManis is an avid triathlete and is constantly training for races. She completed her first Iron Man in May of 2012. She is owned by 2 home kitties- Amante (“Monty”) and La Mariquita (“Mari”), and 2 hospital kitties- Momma Kitty and O’Malley.

Just Cats Veterinary Services
1015 Evergreen Circle
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Phone: (281) 367-2287
Email: vets@justcatsvets.com

Website: http://www.justcatsvets.com/
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Does Pancreatitis Mean the End?

Mar 21, 2013 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

I wrote last time about the choice my client Louis had to make to end the life of his beloved cat, Nadia. It is always a struggle for the owner and his/her veterinarian to make these decisions. Worse, of course, for the client because of the years of love and companionship that have transpired. The strongest desire of the cat owner facing the loss of a beloved companion is to do what is best for the kitty.  Sometimes, the outcome that seems the least likely though, can mean a new reality for a cat and his owner. Let’s talk this time about Garfield.

Garfield, no surprise, is an orange tabby about 15 years old. He came in 6 months ago, just not feeling right. His bloodwork and urinalysis were not completely normal and it was obvious that he had severe pancreatitis. We started his treatment for that and he got somewhat better but just not quite back to normal. Perhaps we had not gotten to the bottom of the problem!

We did another ultrasound and, no surprise, his pancreas looked abnormal but everything was otherwise fine. A few days later and quite suddenly, Garfield took a turn for the worse. This time his bloodwork was far less normal; the white part of his eyes looked a tiny bit yellow;  and, his ultrasound showed a large blocked gall bladder and a little fluid around his liver. The findings had changed a great deal in a very short time.

We contacted our favorite surgeon, one that I had been very happy with for many years. That afternoon, Garfield went to Dr. Griffin’s practice, 100 miles away. The next day, he had a complicated surgery to connect his gall bladder to his small intestine to allow his pancreas to heal and give his gall bladder a safe way to empty.  A tube was placed in his esophagus to allow for adequate nutrition and administration of medicine. He came home with antibiotics, pain medication, liver supportive medication and more. We worked with the client to make sure he received adequate calories through the tube and got all of his medications.

As each day went by, Garfield got a little bit better. He began to gain weight and started to eat a little on his own. After three weeks, he was eating enough on his own that we removed the tube in his esophagus. We monitored him carefully for several months, both by examination and laboratory values. He is doing just fine.

The message of Garfield for me is that, even when things look complicated and very, very serious, good things can and do happen. We all need to stay optimistic and realistic, making sure not to allow for suffering or discomfort. If we maintain Quality of Life during a severe illness, we can be proud of our work together. The owner is the single most important member of the healthcare team. We are here to help make sure that is always true.

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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Me, What? What Your Cat’s Meow is Really Saying

Mar 17, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

Bet your cat knows how to tell you when she’s hungry. Most cats have very dramatic and prolonged meows that let their humans know when it’s time for dinner—and translation assistance is definitely not needed! Those demanding meows tell us exactly what our cats are thinking.

And it turns out that is precisely their point.

Here is the funny thing about those meows…they’re only meant for us. If you have more than one cat, pay attention to the way they interact. Communication is fairly complicated in the feline family, and your cats will talk to one another by using growls, trills, hisses, prrrrps, chirps and even yowls. But what you won’t hear is one meowing to another.

Cats also communicate through scent—they head butt, rub against each other, and mark their homes with invisible scent: a feline “X marks the spot” so all other cats will know who lives there. All these unique signposts and signals make up feline language and are how cats talk with one another.

But sometime during those thousands of years of domestication, our favorite species has evolved a highly-sophisticated secondary speech that is reserved only for its communication and interaction with humans. When your cat meows at you, she is actually “managing” you, and generally making a request or a complaint.

Of course we pay attention—what good cat parent wouldn’t? And when we respond, our cats learn which meow tone and volume is most effective at eliciting a desired behavior from us. Basically, what this means is our cats are training us to do their bidding. Surprised? Didn’t think so. Most of us are very aware that our cats can easily get us to do things for them. But knowing that our cats have a whole different language just for humans? That’s a little scary. Who knows what will come next! World domination?

Tiny kittens will meow at their mother to get attention, but once they are grown, that type of communication stops. So why do cats continue to meow to people? Because it works. Researchers at Cornell University have determined that cats shape and adjust their meows to get what they want from their humans, whether that is food, attention or access to something they desire.

So what makes up an “effective” meow? How does your cat manage your emotions and manipulate you to her own devices? Generally, the louder and more urgent the meow, the less pleasant we people find it, and the faster we jump to attention. These meows tend to be more drawn out, with more force toward the end of the sound, like: Meee-O-O-O-W-W! This is the “I want” frequency. A more pleasant, simple, softer MEE-ow, is a “hello, how are you” greeting. Your cat might say that when you come home from work or when you walk into a room where your cat is resting.

The tone of your cat’s meow is carefully calculated to be at a frequency that is most likely to elicit a response from us. So my little chatty cat has his own secondary language “dialect” that is reserved just for me and my husband. He knows exactly what is needed to make us do what he wants. Your cat has your number as well, but his or her meow tone might be very different because that particular meow is crafted specifically for you.

Most of us humans learn pretty quickly what each individual variation on the demanding meow means. I’d say in general we’re motivated and fast learners, and our cats must be pleased with our progress. Who knows what they’ll get us to do in the next thousand years? My guess is it won’t be just sit and stay!

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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Are Treats Always Bad?

Mar 3, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

My answer is no – treats can be a good thing.

When my cats were kittens, I started giving them treats in their carrier, every day, and I continue to do this. My cat Athena just looks at the treat and walks into the carrier – a tremendous accomplishment for anyone who has chased a cat around the house and then had to cancel a veterinary appointment because “I can’t catch my cat!” I know I need to be consistent and do this everyday; Athena has learned that she only gets treats in the carrier. I toss the treat in the far back corner of the carrier, so she has to walk in.

Of course, if your cat is significantly overweight, and if he gets “just a few” treats every time he asks each member of the household, then he’s getting too many. If you have many humans in the household, I recommend measuring out treats in the morning, and when the (sealed) treat container is empty, then no more for that day.

What treats do I feed my cats? They eat primarily canned food, so my cats consider t/d or Royal Canin dental dry food as their favorite treat. I count the number of pieces because these are calorie-dense; I know they are getting the dental benefit as well as something they really like. They also get a CET dental chew daily, and sometimes Ziwi Peak freeze-dried meat or chicken as a treat.

Something else that is good to introduce as a treat are “pill pockets”. These semi-moist treats are helpful in administering pills to cats, but your cat has to eat the pill pocket. If pill pockets have been introduced as a treat, before they are needed and without medicine, this can make your job of medicating your cat much easier should the need arise in the future.

So, “all things in moderation”, but if you enjoy giving treats to your cats and if they like their treats, this can be a good thing for all.

Dr Dale Rubenstein

Dr. Rubenstein opened the doors of A Cat Clinic, the first all-feline veterinary practice in Montgomery County, in 1986. She earned her BA in Biology from Oberlin College, her MS in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Maryland and her DVM from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. She became board certified in feline practice, one of only 80 diplomats in the U.S., through the American Board of Veterinary Practices (ABVP) in 1996 and re-certified in 2006.

Dr. Rubenstein is also a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), Cornell Feline Health Center, Montgomery County Humane Society Feline Focus Committee, Montgomery County Veterinary Medicine Association, as well as a member of the credentialing committee of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP).

A Cat Clinic, Boyds, MD
14200 Clopper Road,
Boyds, MD 20841

Phone: 301-540-7770
Fax: 301-540-2041
Email: messages@acatclinic.us

Website: http://www.acatclinic.us/
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