Archive from December, 2013

Cats and the Holidays

Dec 24, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior, Tips & Advice

Last year, I wrote a long list of holiday tips for cats: On the First Day of ChristmasOn the Second DayOn the Third Day, and On the Fourth. This year, I thought I would write about family at the holidays. We know our cats and their habits, both good and bad. We know what foods they love, what foods they love but can’t stomach, and what foods they hate. We know all about toxic plants, holiday dangers, and normal household items that are a specific danger for our cat (plastic bag chewers, string and ribbon eaters, Styrofoam peanut chompers…).

However, during the holidays we often open our homes to our families, friends and neighbors to celebrate whichever winter festivity we choose to honor together. These visitors to our homes don’t always know the ins and outs of cats, so make sure to keep your eyes open for possible problems.

One of the best examples of this is our dear friend, Shady. He is a huge, handsome F1 generation Savannah cat (50% Serval). He is 14 years old and loves his family, and loves to play! He also loves to play with children’s toys. By “play”, I really mean “chew into little bits”. Sometimes, the little bits pass right through him, but 6 times in the last 3 years, he has become quite ill after a large chunk of toy has gotten stuck in his digestive tract. Four of those times, he has had to have surgery to remove the toy part.

Before you think poorly of his family for allowing him access to these toys, I have to tell you that each time he got a toy, he had foiled their attempts to hide them from him. Among other mischievous behaviors, he broke into their son’s toy box, and chewed through a wooden cupboard door in order to get at the toys. Eventually, the family got rid of all of the particular type of toy that Shady liked to eat.

This is where family and the holidays come into play…The son’s grandmother felt bad for the owner’s son that he no longer seemed to have any of his favorite toys around, so she brought him a present that contained a bunch of the little rubbery toys that the family had thrown away. The son was overjoyed, and so was Shady. Within two days of Grandma’s visit, he was showing the classic signs of illness that his owner knew meant he had eaten a toy. At his appointment, his x-rays showed the toy was still in his stomach – he could still vomit the toy back up, or it might try to pass through the intestines. Since Shady had just had a toy removed a month prior, his owner elected to watch him. He appeared to be stable and eating and within a few days, he vomited up the toy. Lucky Shady had avoided surgery – this time.

After that incident, Shady’s owners considered getting rid of Grandma, but ultimately decided that was not a good idea. Instead, they had a long discussion with her about the types of toys that she buys for their son, and it has been (knock on wood) over 6 months since we last saw Shady with signs of vomiting and dehydration.

Although he certainly isn’t the only cat that has been in a situation like this, we often use Shady’s story as a teaching tool for clients about cats that are persistent in their unhealthy behaviors, and the importance of making sure that everyone in the household knows significant health facts about the pets in the home – both family members that live in the house, and people that visit regularly.

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


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Did my Cat Eat THAT??? REALLY?

Dec 16, 2013 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

This story is one that I love to tell because it fortunately has a happy ending. It could just as easily have resulted in a tragic loss of a pet and a broken-hearted 6- year old. Pay attention and learn, cat lovers.

My patient, FB (short for Fatty Boy), was rushed in first thing Monday morning to my cat practice. His Mom, Ali, said he had been throwing up all last night and hadn’t touched his breakfast. Ali had entertained some friends with children during the previous 2 days. She remembered that she spotted FB playing Barbies with her daughter and friends in her bedroom. We also learned that FB had a history of snacking on plastic bags. He generally was obsessive about eating not only as much food as he could steal from his 2 kitty housemates, but as many clearly desirable objects made of plastic, as well.

Once admitted to the clinic, we promptly took some blood samples and got FB in for x-rays. FB was drooling buckets the whole time. Cats do that when they’re about to vomit, just like we do. I clearly saw two objects (foreign bodies) in the belly. One was in the stomach and the other one had moved further down into the small intestine. Both could cause complete blockages. In many cats, foreign objects that are swallowed move all the way down and are eliminated without consequences. We hospitalized FB overnight with iv support and treatments for pain and nausea. We would repeat x-rays in the morning and hope the objects would pass through uneventfully. The following morning, my assistant and I cheerfully poked through FB’s litter box contents. While carefully shredding and hunting, I squealed as I struck hard stuff and I rinsed it off for display to all. It was a chewed-up piece of plastic that looked like bright blue gum but felt hard. It was not a recognizable object due to all the damage done before it went down the pipe. Still, our new x-ray showed that the foreign body in FB’s stomach had not budged and the one in the intestines was the one we found. Now we had an emergency on our hands and we had to work quickly to get the object out and relieve the blockage in order to save FB’s life. I was optimistic and hoped I could grasp and remove the thing through my endoscope so we could avoid surgery for FB. All attempts with my grabber through the scope yielded only tufts of white cat hair but I could see a solid black thing that was too large and slick to grab. We moved swiftly into surgery with FB just as the sun went down.

I felt sweaty and a little shaky in the OR as I waited for FB to be prepped and settled in. I began to explore the belly and sighed with relief as I peered inn and saw pink, shiny healthy looking tissues. Great news!

My feet and head ached and throbbed with fatigue as it was now dark outside and this day had been challenging. Then suddenly, all my discomfort slipped away as I gently extracted the mystery object and handed it to my assistant. He gently peeled off the hair obscuring the thing and underneath lay a perfect little tiny black dress shoe, a loafer, belonging to Ken, the doll. The litter loafer glistened in the surgical light, tiny and perfect and so cute. I was smiling ear to ear. We later learned that the blue thing found in poop that morning was Barbie’s purse!

The take home message in this story is that some cats have obsessions involving textures or oral sensations. They tend to repeatedly eat things with a specific similar texture, like wool or string or plastic. In other words, cats don’t “learn their lesson” when an object obstructs and endangers their life. We have the sacred responsibility to cat proof the homes of these kitties and always be aware of monitoring for materials or objects they might swallow.

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

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