Archive from August, 2013

Purr Power!

Aug 29, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior, Tips & Advice

What’s not to love about a purring cat on your lap?  We know it’s a great feeling, and now it seems that there might be some extra and unexpected benefits to our physical health—would you believe a cat purr can strengthen our bones and reduce our risk of heart disease?

Just another reason people should live with cats!

No one is really sure why cats purr.  We know they purr when they’re happy and content, and when they’re trying to be calm, and sometimes when they’re really, really sick.  Little kittens have incredibly loud purrs.  Some cats have subtle purrs, and some cats come with “insta-purr,” where one touch turns on the motor.  Other cats, such as a British cat named Smokey, come with a volume that competes with the noise of a subway train.

I’ve seen many sick cats in my practice who are purring, even though they were clearly not well.  We’ve often thought that this kind of purring was a cat’s way of helping themselves feel less fearful and more relaxed.  But what if that purr was actually helping to relieve very real physical signs of disease or distress?

Most cats come with a purr that vibrates between 20-140 Hertz, which is a sound wave range that might have a therapeutic effect on people and other animals, not unlike that of a therapeutic laser.  This vibration range has been shown to relieve swelling and its associated pain, and also to promote healing in bones and soft tissues.

Truth or science fiction?  When I was a vet student studying bone diseases, our professors would tell us that cat broken bones would almost always heal, regardless of any medical or surgical intervention.  In fact, they would even joke that a treatment for a dog with a broken bone would be to put it in the vicinity of a cat, because cats were so good at healing.  Why was there such a distinct difference in how these species responded to an injury?  Could the cat’s purr be a piece of the puzzle?

The use of therapeutic or cold laser devices in medicine has been somewhat controversial, with proponents touting the use of lasers as a treatment for everything from back pain to gum inflammation.  What these lasers do is emit a low-level wave frequency in a therapeutic range that lowers the components that make up an inflammatory response.  Advocates say laser use can dramatically lessen the symptoms associated with conditions such as a sprained ankle or chronic arthritis.  Frequently, these laser therapies are layered with vibration therapies to complement the effects of the light waves.  The vibration modality is postulated to increase nerve activity and stimulate muscle and bone strength and resilience.

Cat purrs obviously do not emit light.  But there is speculation that the vibration associated with the purr creates its own similar “force field” effect.  Chiropractors have been using vibration therapy for years to help break down scar tissue, relieve pain, increase blood flow and enhance mobility.  Vibration therapy has been used to decrease swelling in injured tissues and drain lymphatic fluids.  Researchers have more recently identified full body vibration therapy as a means to increase bone strength and aid mobility in people born with cerebral palsy, a progressively debilitating neuromuscular disorder.

Vibration therapy in the 90 Hz range is also used to help astronauts combat the bone loss effects of being in a zero gravity environment and has been used successfully in the space program for years.

What else can that feline purr accomplish?  Well, we know how soothing being around a purring cat can be, but there also seem to be even more tangible health benefits for us humans.  Cats lower our blood pressure and relieve stress—all pets do this but cats are the undisputed champs.  Cats have even been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases—if people do not own cats, they are an astonishingly 40% more likely to have heart disease or strokes, based on a paper presented at a 2008 meeting of the American Stroke Association.

What could be next for our amazing felines?  Perhaps the day is not far off when we see doctors writing prescriptions for cat ownership, and astronauts will set off for outer space with Kitty in the co-pilot seat.

Dogs can only drool with envy!

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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Spay and Neuter

Aug 25, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

It was sunny summer weekday morning and I had only two blocks to go to get to the cat hospital where I work when I saw a familiar black and white figure on the double yellow line up ahead. As I approached, I could see it clearly – a tuxedo cat, its colors smudged like newsprint with tar and debris from the road leaving permanent stains, highlighted in red by the cat’s internal organs which had eviscerated with the impact.

Nothing to be done to save the cat, I parked my car at work, went in to get some towels and walked back to where the lifeless cat lay. Back at the hospital, we looked for a collar and tag- none- scanned him for a microchip-negative- and could see he was a young male, unneutered and possibly unowned. A tragic end to his short life.

How could this have had a better ending? One where this handsome, sleek feline could have enjoyed a life like so many of the patients for which we care every day? He had been wandering or perhaps bolted across a busy four-lane road, very likely in pursuit of a female. Female cats, known as queens, can go through estrus or “heat” cycles every few weeks through the warmer months if they do not mate.

Their pheromones, or scent hormones, while odorless to us will bring male cats like our unlucky friend from other areas. And those tom cats will urine mark the territory they are attempting to claim, scratch to provide visual warnings to other male cats trying to vie for the female in question, and even fight to claim the right to breed her.

Spaying and neutering all cats not intended for registered purebred breeding will keep them from fighting, roaming, urine marking a territory they are attempting to claim, and most importantly, it will keep them from contributing to the already burgeoning cat population. Spaying and neutering is critical for the health of the cats, as females spayed before they go through a heat cycle have less than ½ of 1% (0.5%) chance of developing breast cancer. With every subsequent heat cycle, the risk of developing breast cancer increases.

Each year, the third Saturday of August is International Homeless Animals Day. Why not contribute and celebrate this year by helping cats in need of spaying and neutering in your community? Help out with a TNR (trap, neuter, return) program in your own community, sponsor a spay or neuter surgery for a cat in need at your local veterinarian, or volunteer at a local shelter or rescue organization that is committed to sterilization of both dogs and cats prior to adoption.

Sadly, our tuxedoed cat was all dressed up with somewhere to go, and it wasn’t home. So please spay and neuter, and celebrate a lifetime of health and happiness with your cat, and with cats in your community.

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

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How Long can a Cat be in a Hot Car?

Aug 12, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

When 3-year old Zorro came in for a routine exam and to have the long hair clipped under his tail, his owner thought since she lived nearby, she didn’t need to worry about cooling off the car before driving over. It was a warm day, and Zorro proceeded to share Dawn’s water bottle, licking the water she put into the cap of the bottle. Concerned about Zorro, we immediately offered him a bowl of water and he drank the entire bowl. It is rare to see a young, healthy cat drink water during an office visit, so we checked kidney function and tested for diabetes, but all was normal.

Our cats, especially those used to air conditioning indoors are not acclimated to extremely warm temperatures. And, even cats who go outdoors usually stay in the shade to avoid very high temperatures.

While cats are less likely than Fido the dog to want to accompany us in the car, it is important to remember how sensitive our pets are to hot weather. If your cat is traveling with you in the car, no stops “even for 5 minutes”, unless you are able to leave the car running and air conditioning on. Heat stroke is very serious and often irreversible. So, if it is hot for you, your cat is just as affected by extreme heat.

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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