Archive from April, 2013

What About Grain – Free Foods for Cats?

Apr 23, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Cats are carnivores and require meat protein. You don’t see cats grazing in the fields as you do with herbivores (non-meat eaters) such as cattle or horses. In the wild, cats that hunt would eat the entire kill, to get their necessary vitamins and minerals. Cats eating 100% muscle meat only are subject to dietary deficiencies such as Rickets (Vitamin D/Calcium deficiency).

But what about grain free – is this necessary? Pet food companies want to make sure that their foods are nutritionally complete and balanced. Ideally, feeding trials have been performed to ensure that the food is complete and balanced. Adding certain grains can boost proteins, add fiber and necessary vitamins and minerals. In addition, grain- free foods are not carbohydrate-free.

  • “Jack” was on a grain-free food, but it turned out he had a dietary sensitivity to blueberries and sweet potatoes, components of his grain-free food. Once switched off of the grain-free food, his skin and intestinal issues resolved.
  • “Eddie” had urinary problems. Again, grain-free doesn’t mean carbohydrate-free, and it turned out that the carbohydrates in the food he was eating contributed to his urinary blockage problems. Changing his diet has resolved his urinary issues.

So, is grain-free always bad? No. If the food your cat is eating leads to a shiny, soft coat, an alert, comfortable cat of normal body weight, with no abnormal stool, skin or other problems, then the food is fine for your cat. As always, ask your veterinarian about your cat’s diet if you have any questions or concerns.

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

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Catnip and Cannabis – Reefer Meow-ness?

Apr 16, 2013 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

All the cool cats were smoking the illicit weed during the early days of jazz in the 1920s on the streets of New York City.  In fact, years later, when I was living in Greenwich Village in the 1980s, things hadn’t changed much at all.  The aroma of that fragrant herb would frequently waft up from the street through the open windows of my 4th floor apartment, strangely reminiscent of…catnip!

Have you ever wondered why cats get so crazy over catnip?  What is it about that herb?

Catnip was originally imported from the Mediterranean, where this member of the mint family grew like a …uh, weed…along the rocky coastline.  The plant’s leaves, stems and flowers are enormously attractive to most cats, including lions, tigers and panthers.  Many of our housecats also love indulging in this lemony, potent mint.

Catnip, which is also known as catmint, is a cousin of basil and oregano.  Even its Latin name, cataria, means “of the cat.”  The allure is from the volatile oils contained in the seeds, leaves and stems, specifically from one chemical in those oils: trans- nepetalactone.  This chemical is very similar to the odor of a female cat in heat, which is why male tomcats are reported to be most affected by the oils.

Genetics determine whether your cat will be intoxicated by this herb and enter that wacky, dreamlike trance.  About 50% of cats inherit sensitivity to the effects of catnip, and all kittens are completely impervious to its effects until they reach about 3 months of age.

Catnip appears to be a dis-inhibitor, which means that a cat’s natural tendencies toward aggression, playfulness or craziness will get magnified.  Some cats will become mellow and calm, and reach a kind of drug high very reminiscent to what happens to humans under the influence of a certain related herb.  Catnip oils induce a narcotic, hallucinogenic state in susceptible cats, as a result of what appears to be stimulation to the cat’s phermonic receptor.

We know cats have an intensely sensitive olfactory system and love to scent-mark and brand their territory through smells.  Catnip seems to enhance that sensation and mimic what happens during a surge of feline pheromones, which are natural compounds that cats use to enhance social communication among individuals.

Cats who are affected by catnip only maintain that bliss state for roughly 10 minutes, and that “high” is triggered by exposure to oils through rolling on the leaves, and licking, chewing and eating the plant.  Once that state is completed, most cats need about two hours to “reset” before they can experience catnip’s hallucinogenic effect again.

Because the trigger is found in the oils of the plant, fresh catnip is most potent, but when the dried herb is tightly-sealed, it can also be appealing.  Interestingly, the herb valerian is a close chemical equivalent to catnip, and will induce a similar response in genetically-susceptible cats.  This herb is commonly found in homeopathic relaxation and anti-stress remedies.

Cats enjoy catnip so much that it’s a relief to know that it is not addictive at all, and it doesn’t appear to be any sort of “gateway” drug that might produce a chronic feline drug offender.  And haven’t you always wondered what catnip might do to people?  After all, cats look so happy when they’re caught up in the ecstasy of the herb!

One of the veterinarians I worked with in a New York City cat practice also was curious.  He told me he raided his cat’s stash one night after work and put some in his pipe and…well, he wasn’t too successful in channeling his feline friends.  He said the end result was a bad taste and one serious headache!

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

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A Quick Cosmo Update

Apr 5, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

If you missed it read about Cosmo’s Big Adventure

Prior to starting radiation he had to have CT scan to determine the plan where he would receive his radiation therapy.  So, no food after midnight since he would have anesthesia.  Always harder than it sounds with 3 cats.

We were up early and Cosmo was then placed in the carrier.  He has always been good about this and I grateful that we started early in life.  The other 2 are then easily fed. I get a call that all went well.  The CT is sent to Calgary for the radiologist to make the plan. A week later we get a call and they are ready to start at any time.

So now it begins., 18 treatments in total.  18 anesthesias.  Sounds overwhelming.  My main issue would be getting him to the facility in the morning and then getting him in the evening.  With my schedule I do not usually leave until 8 in the evening.  Fortunately, the center can keep him overnight.  I am so grateful since we only have about 2 awake hours together. We will start on a Wednesday and finish on a Friday 2 weeks later.

They do not do treatments on the weekend so on Friday I go get him.  I was told to be prepared that the radiation could burn his neck and he might not be able to eat.  Cosmo is one of those cats that lives to eat.  If he did get burned, he might need a feeding tube.  This would have to be tube directly into his stomach and not his neck due to the location of the treatment.

I get him and am prepared for the worst. Happily I had worried needlessly.  He gets home and goes straight for the food bowl. Same old Cosmo especially after he goes and bugs his sister.  Sunday night it will start all over again.  No food after midnight.

Fortunately the next 2 weeks go very well with no issues.  On his last night, he was given a scarf that he graduated from radiation therapy.  I liked the scarf better than he did, but was so grateful for all the good care he received.

Towards the end of treatment, I spoke with his oncologist.  I learned that cats have far fewer issues with radiation than humans.  I also learned that dogs have much harder time than humans.  We also discussed since we had come this far we might want to consider chemotherapy for Cosmo also.  This would be the last step and would be done 3 weeks apart.  The first one would happen during the last week of treatment.  I decide to go ahead given that we had come this far.  He needed blood work to be sure that he had enough white blood cells.

I will keep you posted on how he handles this part of his adventure.  He seems to be enjoying himself and loves seeing people at the clinic.  At this moment, I am happy with my decision since Cosmo seems to be very happy with it.

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

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