Archive from March, 2014

Cats and Easter Lilies – a Deadly Combination!

Mar 24, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Easter lilies, found in bouquets and potted plants particularly this time of year, are extremely toxic to cats. Ingestion of any part of the lily causes kidney failure within 36-72 hours.

“Cat owners need to be aware that the consequences can be devastating, even fatal, to our feline family members”, states Dr. Cindy McManis of Just Cats Veterinary Services in The Woodlands, Texas. “Though not as popular this time of year, other species of lilies such as Tiger lilies, Day lilies, Stargazer lilies and Oriental lilies are also extremely toxic.”

Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, drooling and vomiting. Delay of treatment for over 18 hours will likely result in kidney failure and a high risk of death. Treatment includes evacuating and protecting the stomach and intestines from any absorption of the toxin and administering intravenous fluids. Dr. McManis notes that other species of animals such as dogs and horses are not known to be affected. Peace lilies and calla lilies are not in the same genus but can cause minor mouth and gastrointestinal irritation. Due to these risks, cat owners are encouraged to avoid placing lilies anywhere where cats reside.

In addition to having your regular veterinarian’s office number readily available, owners should have the number for Animal Poison Control, (888) 426-4435, accessible.

If your cat exhibits any of the symptoms noted above or if you suspect that your cat has ingested any part of an Easter lily seek veterinary care immediately. With prompt treatment, full recovery is possible.

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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Parasites and the Inside Cat: Why it Makes Sense

Mar 17, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

My three cats never leave the house, and it was easy for me to assume that they couldn’t possibly get infected with parasites, because how would they get exposed?  I am ashamed to admit it, but my own preventive parasite control routine with my boys was less than ideal.

That changed the day I diagnosed my best friend’s inside cat with heartworm disease.  I felt a little less than professionally competent when I thought about the number of times I’d been bothered by mosquitos inside my own house, and then realized that any one of those mosquitos might have been carrying heartworm disease.  Why in the world did I think that inside cats were magically immune?

Cats today might not eat off a silver spoon, but they generally lead much more pampered and comfortable lives than their ancestors ever imagined.  Gone are the days of fighting to survive!  Our cats are so far removed from the daily struggle to find food and avoid enemies that it’s easy to think that they have nothing to worry about.
But are they really safe?

Parasites are everywhere, and entire melting pots of potential pathogens, including parasites, can and do reside quite happily inside and on our treasured house cats.  Our challenge is that even though we know that life rarely exists in an impermeable and sterile bubble, the concept of parasite control for an inside cat is not intuitively natural.  For many of us, we simply don’t think that the element of risk is enough of an actual threat to take action.  Even when we know that some of the common and preventable parasitic diseases can be transmitted to people, we still resist using preventives.

I’m just like anyone else, and if I can’t see something physically, like a jumping flea or a worm in my cat’s poop, it makes it more difficult to believe that it exists.  Human nature?  Who knows?  And doubly crazy when I know just as well as anyone else that there are many problems that are effectively invisible, like a high cholesterol level.

Preventive medicine is a time-honored concept.  It is the philosophical backbone behind the use of vaccines, and maybe closer to home, it is the support for wearing a seatbelt when we take the car out and brushing our teeth to prevent decay.  For some parasitic diseases—like heartworm disease—the risk of one exposure can be death.  For others, exposure is more of a nuisance or irritation.

Many cats have very fluid lifestyles—they might spend most of their time indoors, but occasionally sun themselves on the back porch, or they live with animal housemates who go outdoors, or they go outside when their owners vacation at the beach cottage.  And there are true indoor-only house cats who love to kill and consume bugs.  Insects can be transmission agents for some of the more common intestinal parasites, so it makes perfect sense to do yearly fecal checks on indoor cats along with broad-spectrum parasite control.  Anyone who’s been plagued by a buzzing mosquito or housefly knows how easily flying insects can gain access to even the most well-secured house. Heated, humidified homes can also be terrific breeding grounds for fleas, as well as a place of refuge for flea-carrying rodents.  Ever get mice in your house?  We do, and our cats think it is party time.  Beyond fleas, mice can carry other parasites that can infect your cat.

How else can our indoor cats get exposed to parasites?  Just think about what happens when we’re doing yard work or gardening and then come inside.  Shoes, gloves and clothes covered in contaminants fresh from the parasite reservoir that exists in most suburban yards are now in perfect position to inadvertently expose our feline friends.  My cats like nothing better than to rub all over my sneakers—the smellier and dirtier the better—and take in the spoils of the great outdoors.
As veterinarians, we are concerned about the welfare of our feline patients.  Cats are enormously important to their families, and provide tangible health and happiness benefits.  It seems the least we can do is to implement safe and effective preventive healthcare measures that take into account the cat’s unique role and special needs.  Parasite control is an integral part of any wellness program, and year-round preventive use makes complete sense for today’s cat.

I don’t ever want to say to another friend, “Sorry, I just didn’t think he was going to get infected, so it seemed silly to give him a preventive.”

If you’re interested in the down and dirty of parasites and your cat, the Companion Animal Parasite Council has excellent information on its website, www.petsandparasites.org.

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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Why do Cats Purr? (Part 2 of 2)

Mar 9, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior

Last time I wrote about purring and what it is for and why it is a wonderful evolutionary capability. I missed some very important information about purring in that post. Over the holiday, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a little time off that was not as over-scheduled and stressful as those days can be. I got some down time that was sorely needed.

So every morning, I sat with a cup of coffee and my iPad to read the daily paper. Inevitably within 5 minutes of sitting down, my “dearest, smartest, sweetest, most intuitive kitty ever” would leap into my lap for his daily facial. The spots on his head that are acupressure points – the area at the top of his head, right between his ears, his cheeks and under his chin – and a few others that he taught me he prefers would get a massage. He would purr his head off for as long as I would do it.

As his facial and purring went on, I would find myself relaxing. I stopped planning the day, making lists in my head and worrying about whatever I ordinarily worry about, which seems to be another endless list. My heartrate slowed as I entered a kind of meditative state that was delightful, slow and luxurious. Researchers know the benefits of meditation on general health and all that has been widely published.

After decades of research, most investigators agree that meditation practice reliably reduces physiological arousal and psychological anxiety. Likewise, to the extent that a clinical problem is exacerbated by stress, it is thought that meditation can serve as a helpful intervention. Meditation is similar to other self-regulation techniques, such as biofeedback and progressive relaxation training, in that they all involve a conscious attempt to control attention. We have known for a very long time that meditation can have large beneficial effects when done consistently and over time.

There are many forms of meditation and schools of training – walking, Zen, mindfulness, transcendental. The list is very long. Think about the physiological benefits of purring and touching a cat and incorporate that into another practice, “purring meditation”. I have been called type A and “high stress” and other less kind descriptions of my pace and preferences. If I can slow a bit and focus and relax more fully with a cat in my lap, so can you. Give it 10 minutes and your best “motor” kitty. You won’t regret it and it may become a delightful addition to the rituals of your day.

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