Name: Dr Diana Lafer

Web Site: http://www.catslimited.com/

Bio:

Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

Cats Limited Hospital
1260 New Britain Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06110

Phone: (860) 561-9885
Email: cats@catslimited.com

Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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    Here’s Looking At You: Eyes Part One

    April 21st, 2014

    Last week Oreo’s owner called up confused. She explained that Oreo, her sweet little black and white tuxedo was absolutely fine, but she had started winking at her the day before. Oreo was eating and drinking and running around like her crazy self, so she couldn’t be in pain, but still, there was that wink. Our staff scheduled a visit for Oreo and I saw her that day. Indeed Oreo was perfectly healthy except that she had scratched the surface of her eye- the cornea. We started her on medication right away, including pain medication. The wink disappeared and her eye healed within a few days.

    Cats are much more stoic than we are. Most of the time, they show very few outward signs of pain, so as pet owners we need to be detectives. If you have ever had an eye injury or infection, you know how painful that is. Cats feel the same pain as we do, they just don’t show it.

    Eye injuries require prompt veterinary evaluation and treatment. Treatment with the wrong medication can prolong disease and in some cases, make things worse, so you will want your cat examined by your veterinarian in person, not over the phone.

    Here are some things to look for, starting with the basics. Each of these signs warrants evaluation by your veterinarian.

    1. Redness: if one eye, or part of the eye is red, that means inflammation. This is most commonly caused by trauma or infection and often comes with pain.
    2. Is one eye closed? This means pain, even if everything else seems fine.
    3. Is there swelling around one or both eyes? Swelling is due to trauma, infection or inflammation.
    4. Is your cat rubbing at one eye? That’s her way of saying “This eye is hurt. Please make it better before I make it worse.”
    5. Is the third eyelid showing? This can indicate infection, inflammation, trauma or other diseases. Please see my previous blog about third eyelids.
    6. Discharge. The eyes are constantly producing some watery and some mucousy material to coat and protect the eye. Excess of either signals underlying disease. Colored (green or brown) mucous discharge is usually caused by infection.
    7. Excess tearing is often caused by irritation. Irritation = pain.
    8. What about the eyelids? Some cats’ eyelids don’t sit flat on the eye and can roll in, causing the eyelashes to rub on the eye. This causes painful trauma to the eye surface (cornea). Ever get a grain of sand in your eye? Now think 30 grains of sand. You get the picture.
    9. Is there a growth or bump on the eyelid? If so, this is best addressed early. If surgery is needed, it is always best to do before a growth gets too large, especially in this delicate area. Many (but not all) eyelid growths are benign.

    In most cases, your family veterinarian can evaluate and treat your cat. Sometimes evaluation and treatment by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist is necessary. See http://www.acvo.org/ for more information.

    Stay tuned for Part Two- Weird Pupils.

    Dr Diana Lafer

    Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

    Cats Limited Hospital
    1260 New Britain Avenue
    West Hartford, CT 06110

    Phone: (860) 561-9885
    Email: cats@catslimited.com

    Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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    Ultrasound or Radiographs (x-rays) – What’s The Difference?

    February 21st, 2013

    Unlike radiographs, ultrasound uses sound waves to generate a picture of the internal organs. Ultrasound is completely safe and painless and does not require anesthesia or sedation in most cases.

    Ultrasound may be recommended after a physical examination, blood test or x-ray indicates an underlying problem. Ultrasound is commonly used in both veterinary and human medicine for a wide variety of problems, including diseases of the liver, kidneys, bladder, stomach, intestines, pancreas, heart, and other organs. As with people, it can be used safely during pregnancy.

    Ultrasound can “see” many things that can’t be seen on x-rays. For example, if there is fluid build-up in the chest or abdomen, the organs can’t be seen clearly on x-ray because fluid and tissue have the same density. However, they appear quite clearly on ultrasound, because we can see through the fluid. In addition, while x-rays are helpful to see the shapes and sizes of the internal organs, ultrasound can get a picture of the internal structure.

    If an x-ray shows an enlarged heart, we can’t tell from the x-ray if the walls of the heart are thick with narrowed heart chambers (where the blood flows) or if the walls are thin and weak with big chambers or if there is fluid build-up between the heart and the sac that surrounds it. Ultrasound can readily give us this information, which is critical, as these scenarios represent different types of heart disease, with different prognoses and treatments.

    Ultrasound is not effective at seeing through air or bone, so it does not replace x-rays but rather is complementary. In some cases both x-rays and ultrasound are needed in order to get a complete picture of what is going on with a patient.

    Ultrasound equipment is specialized and quite expensive, so not all veterinary hospitals have an ultrasound machine. Many hospitals have specialists that come to perform the examinations. Other hospitals refer their patients to a hospital that can provide this level of care. In some cases of complex heart disease, evaluation by a veterinary cardiologist may be needed.

    Due to the specialized nature of ultrasonic exam and evaluation, it is critical to have a veterinarian who is experienced in obtaining and reading ultrasound images to perform the examination, and make this information apply to each patient in a meaningful way in terms of prognosis and treatment recommendations.

    What happens during an ultrasound?

    The hair over the area to be evaluated will be shaved, as hair will interfere with the images. A gel (water soluble and safe) will be applied to the skin to help the sound waves generate a good picture. A transducer (similar in size and shape to a TV remote control) is placed on the patient’s skin and slowly moved around over the area to be examined. The ultrasound is computerized, so it can be used to accurately measure the tissues as needed. In addition, images can be stored electronically.

    In order to perform a thorough exam, the patient needs to stay relatively still, though some wiggling is fine. Although some cats may be slightly anxious initially, most relax and remain calm once they realize that nothing painful is happening. For cats that are very anxious, your veterinarian may recommend a sedative.

    What should I do to prepare for the ultrasound procedure?

    Please do not feed your cat for 8-12 hours prior to the examination. Water is permitted. In the case of an abdominal ultrasound, an empty stomach allows for proper imaging of the area near the stomach. There are some diseases/situations where food should NOT be withheld; contact your veterinarian for specific instructions. If your cat is having an abdominal ultrasound, please try not to let your pet urinate for the 3 hours prior to your appointment. This will help get a better picture of the bladder.

    What will the ultrasound tell us?

    An ultrasound examination will provide a lot of information about your cat’s health. Together with the internist, we look at information from lab tests, x-rays, examinations and medical history to make medical recommendations.

    • A specific diagnosis: often ultrasound can provide us with a diagnosis (or a reason for your cat’s illness).
    • A Partial diagnosis: While ultrasound shows us the shapes and consistencies of the internal organs, it cannot see microscopic changes. This means that while an ultrasound examination can identify abnormal tissue, including growths, it cannot always determine if the tissue is cancerous or what type of cancer it is. For some patients, this information will affect how they are treated and a biopsy may be recommended. In some cases, this biopsy may be performed as an ultrasound guided needle sample under light anesthesia. In other cases, a surgical biopsy is needed.
    • No Diagnosis/ Disease Exclusion: For some patients, the organ changes are not visible enough to pinpoint the problem. We are able to exclude (or rule out) certain diseases, but are left with a list of possible diseases that are causing your cat’s illness. This can be both relieving and frustrating. We will discuss options for therapies based on the available information and will recommend the best path for additional testing to obtain a diagnosis if indicated and desired.

    If you have additional questions about whether ultrasound or x-rays are appropriate for your cat, please contact your veterinarian.

    Dr Diana Lafer

    Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

    Cats Limited Hospital
    1260 New Britain Avenue
    West Hartford, CT 06110

    Phone: (860) 561-9885
    Email: cats@catslimited.com

    Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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    The Diet That Suddenly Works

    December 5th, 2012

    My last blog was about dieting, but a more serious concern is the diet that suddenly starts producing results without having changed your cat’s dietary routine. Diets don’t suddenly start working on their own and you cannot wish those pounds away (or we all might be “svelte”). Basically we are talking about what we call “unexplained weight loss”.

    Unexplained weight loss is exactly that. Weight loss without a good (or known) cause. The list of causes of unexplained weight loss is fairly long, however, we can usually narrow it down with a little detective work.

    Cats, by nature, are stoic and they will not tell you that they are sick until they have to, so you need to be a detective at home as well. Very often the only sign of illness is weight loss. Your cat will try to tell you that everything is fine, but the scale will tell you otherwise.

    Being a veterinary detective, we start with the obvious- diet. Have you changed how and what you are feeding your cat? If so, did this change result in fewer calories fed?

    Is your cat choosing to eat less on his/her own? A decreased appetite is not specific to any particular disease, but is important information. Is your cat having difficulty eating? This could indicate and underlying dental problem (although most cats will continue to eat normally in the face of advanced dental disease).

    Is your cat having intestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhea)? This will interfere with proper digestion of food.

    Is your cat drinking and urinating more than usual? This could indicate (most commonly) diabetes or an underlying kidney infection.

    Is your cat eating more and/or stealing food, yet losing weight? This can be consistent with an overactive thyroid gland or diabetes.

    Is your cat on a regular deworming program? Has your cat had a recent fecal test? Parasites can cause weight loss, however, unless there is an overwhelming infection, they are unlikely to cause a drastic weight loss.

    These observations are very important and should be shared with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will need to perform a comprehensive examination on your feline friend. Very often a comprehensive examination along with a detailed history will help narrow the list of suspected diseases help develop a plan to uncover the problem.

    In most cases an internal organ screen (blood and urine test) will be necessary. These screening tests give your veterinarian a lot of information – almost like an internal examination.

    In some cases radiographs (x-rays) are needed. One of the causes of unexplained weight loss in seemingly healthy cats includes tumors in the chest. The chest is one area that cannot be palpated (or felt) during the examination because it is protected by the rib cage. Chest tumors can grow to a substantial size before causing obvious outward symptoms. An x-ray is necessary to check for chest tumors.

    Once the screening test results are in hand, your veterinarian can either start treatment or discuss what additional testing (if any) is necessary. In most cases, if you have screened the blood, urine and stool and have normal x-rays and have still not found the cause of the weight loss, the next step is an abdominal ultrasound.

    Ultrasound is a safe and painless way to evaluate internal organs in more detail. While x-rays show us the shape and position of the internal organs, an ultrasound can give us details of the internal parts of the organs. In cases of unexplained weight loss, we are especially concerned about the intestinal tract (one area where blood tests can’t accurately evaluate). The ultrasound can detect changes in the intestines and other organs and help pinpoint problems. While ultrasound will not always give you an exact diagnosis (a biopsy may be needed for this), it will provide a great deal of information and can help direct treatment, provide a prognosis (an idea of what to expect in the future) and other options to obtain a specific diagnosis.

    Sometimes it is hard for cat owners to decide how far to go with testing. If you are unsure if you want to pursue an ultrasound and/or biopsy you need to discuss this with your veterinarian. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Our role as veterinarians is to help you make educated decisions about health care for your cats. Make a list of your questions and your concerns to review in your discussion. The most common question I get is “what will we do differently based on the results?” It isn’t possible to discuss treatments for every possible outcome of the testing, but it’s important to know that the results will be helpful.

    So please watch your cat’s weight and be a veterinary detective at home. If your cat experiences unexplained weight loss, gather information and make an appointment with your veterinarian. It is much better for you and your cat if we can detect and treat a disease earlier than if we wait for your cat to show signs of illness. Unsure if your cat’s weight has changed? Most bathroom scales are not accurate enough to detect small changes in weight for cats. Either purchase an infant scale to use at home or call your veterinarian to see if you can bring your cat in to be weighed.

    Dr Diana Lafer

    Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

    Cats Limited Hospital
    1260 New Britain Avenue
    West Hartford, CT 06110

    Phone: (860) 561-9885
    Email: cats@catslimited.com

    Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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    Mismatched Metabolisms: The Case of “Big Boy” and “Miss Princess”

    October 24th, 2012

    “But Doc, how can I get ‘Big Boy’ to lose weight when ‘Miss Princess’ needs extra food to maintain her weight?!” I get this question often. Of course the names have been changed to protect the innocent, but it is a common problem. What to do, what to do…

    There are several ways to approach this problem of mismatched metabolisms, but the bottom line is that you have to do something different than what you have been doing. Sorry- it is just not working. Keep it up, and Big Boy may be seeing his veterinarian more often for diabetes management and other maladies. I will try to give you some simple practical advice. Of course, it is your job to carry it out, so chose a method that will work on a daily basis for your household.

    Step one: consult your veterinarian for nutritional advice. This includes not only what to feed, but how much.  It is likely that if you are not already feeding a large percentage of canned food as the diet, your veterinarian will recommend doing so. Canned food is lower in carbohydrates than dry and is much better for combating and preventing obesity in cats. (See The Skinny on Fattening Foods).

    Step two: make a plan that works in your household. It is critical that the entire family agrees to the plan and that the plan be as easy as possible. You will most likely need to measure how much you are feeding. Having small, easy to use measuring scoops (if you are feeding dry food) makes it easier. In our house, we use a metal 1/8th cup scoop. It’s hard to cheat using one of these.  If several people feed the cats, measure out the daily food allowance into a container (or separate containers) and have family members feed from this. Once it’s gone, no refills until the next day!

    Step Three: Follow up at regular intervals on an accurate scale. Most bathroom scales will not be accurate enough to detect small changes (less than 1 lb.). I recommend that you bring your cat to your veterinarian to be weighed or that you purchase an infant scale to use at home (these are readily available on line). I recommend weighing every 4 weeks initially. Not every cat fits the average profile. When I first put my chubby cat on a diet, he actually gained weight! The poor guy has a low metabolism, so we had to adjust his daily intake. Conversely, we don’t want our cats to lose weight too quickly.

    What about Miss Princess?

    The simple fact is that with Big Boy in the house, you can no longer provide the free access “all day buffet”.  Here are some options along with pointers:

    1. Continue the “all day buffet” for Miss Princess and feed Big Boy separately. Some clients find an area that the bigger cat cannot reach. This might be a high surface or small access area. You can get creative with more technical solutions, including indoor invisible fencing to keep Big Boy out of the buffet room or a coded magnet on Miss Princess’s collar that will open a cat door to allow access to a room or crate/carrier with her food (magnetic collar and matching door available on line).
    2. Gradually transition all cats to meal feeding and feed them separately. Two to three meals a day works well for most cats. This is best done by first removing the food at night. Next, remove it for a few hours during the middle of the day then gradually make this period longer. Nighttime may be more difficult, if your cats wake you up asking for food, but be strong!
    3. If your veterinarian recommends a reduced calorie diet and you cannot feed different foods, in most cases it is easier to feed for the cat that needs to lose weight and then supplement the lighter cat as needed. Big Boy is eating more to begin with, so the change in food will affect him more than Miss Princess.
    4. Treats are not “free”! If you give your cats treats or table food on a daily basis, discuss this with your veterinarian. These calories add up over time and can de-rail a diet in no time. On average, one extra tablespoon of dry food every day for 1 year will put on 1 lb. of weight.
    5. Exercise is always helpful in any weight loss program – both mentally and physically. Make your cat work for his food. Have him chase the laser light to find a hidden bowl of food. If you are feeding dry food, give it to your cat in a “food toy” so he has to work to get it and eat slowly. This will be fun for you too!
    6. Slow weight loss is critical in cats. Small changes over time will be successful. Rapid, severe weight loss in cats can cause serious illness.  Be consistent and know that you are helping your cat be happier and healthier in the long run.

    Good luck and be strong!

     

    Dr Diana Lafer

    Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

    Cats Limited Hospital
    1260 New Britain Avenue
    West Hartford, CT 06110

    Phone: (860) 561-9885
    Email: cats@catslimited.com

    Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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    Cats and Cigarettes – A Lethal Combination

    June 16th, 2012

    If you are a smoker, then you have probably been told by many people to stop smoking. Get ready to add two more to the list: your veterinarian and your cat!

    Cats that live in smoking households are unwilling victims of second hand smoke. Second hand smoke has long been suspected of causing respiratory disease and lung cancer (and other cancers) in cats. Few studies are available, however, a 2002 study by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine showed that cats living in smoking households were twice a likely to develop feline lymphoma (a type of cancer).

    In addition, in smoking households, smoke particles land and cover exposed surfaces, including the cats. These particles (and more picked up through contact) are swallowed by cats during grooming, causing an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, a deadly oral cancer. Basically, you are covering your cat in cancer-causing particles.

    Lastly, cats that swallow tobacco products can be poisoned by nicotine. Menthol is especially appealing to some cats, making them very dangerous. One cigarette can contain enough nicotine to be toxic to a 5 lb. cat.

    Kicking the habit? Congratulations – you may be saving your life and your cat’s life, but please be careful. All nicotine products are poisonous to cats, so be sure they are out of reach. The toxic level of nicotine for cats is 5 mg (milligrams) of nicotine per pound of body weight.

    Nicotine levels in various products include:

    • Nicotine patches – 8 to 114 mg of nicotine.
    • Nicotine gum – 2 to 4 mg per piece.
    • Nicotine inhalers – about 4 mg per puff.
    • Nasal sprays – 80 to 100 mg per bottle (0.5 mg per spray).
    • Cigars – approximately 15 to 40 mg each.
    • Chewing tobacco – 6 to 8 mg of nicotine per gram.
    • Snuff – 12 to 17 mg of nicotine per gram.
    • A cigarette butt can contain 4 – 8 mg since smoking concentrates some of the nicotine in the butt.

    So, if you truly love your cat, stop smoking. It is hard, but so important for you and your cat. Need help? Here are some of the many available resources:

    Until you quit, please avoid smoking indoors and make sure to keep all Tobacco and nicotine containing products out of your cat’s reach.

    Just Quit – Your cat will thank you!


    Photo by Tony Stone & Adeline Rapon

    Dr Diana Lafer

    Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

    Cats Limited Hospital
    1260 New Britain Avenue
    West Hartford, CT 06110

    Phone: (860) 561-9885
    Email: cats@catslimited.com

    Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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    Real Life Stories: Heart Worms and Pumpkin

    April 7th, 2012

    This is the story of my wonderful cat, Pumpkin and how I lost him- a happy, healthy cat, at such a young age. I know now that I should have tried harder to prevent the disease that ultimately took him. As a veterinarian, it especially pains me to know that he died of a preventable disease. Unfortunately, this happens to cats every year. My hope is that, by sharing our sad story, others can avoid the same fate.

    Pumpkin came to us through our hospital’s adoption program. He was a healthy little kitten in need of a home. Although we aren’t supposed to have favorites, he was mine. He grew to a small, fluffy orange tiger with a sweet, outgoing and gentle nature. His one challenge was that he refused to eat the monthly chewable heartworm preventive (Heartgard). At the time, topical preventives were not available, and there was still much we didn’t know about feline heartworm disease. Although my other cat would gladly eat the whole box if I let him, I could not get Pumpkin to take the medication easily, so I was lax with forcing him to take it.

    One day, when Pumpkin was four years old I came home from a quick run to the store to find him lying on the floor, taking his last breath. I ran to him and tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late -he was already gone. How could this be?! He was fine a half hour ago. He was young and healthy and was in the house with no sign of trauma. He was still so cute and sweet, but gone. In shock, we sadly said our goodbyes.

    I brought him to the University of Connecticut to be examined. I had to know what had happened and if my other cat was in danger. After an extensive examination all they found was one adult heartworm- small, but enough to kill him. That was it.

    Feline Heartworm disease is much different from heartworm disease in dogs. It is often difficult to detect, almost impossible to safely treat, and disease symptoms vary greatly. While some cats infected with heartworm may have frequent coughing or vomiting, one of the more common signs is sudden death. Heartworm has been diagnosed in all 50 states and indoor cats are not immune to the disease. In one study, almost one third of cats with heartworm disease were indoor only cats. The good news is that it is almost 100% preventable with safe monthly medication.

    As pet owners, we decide what care our pets get: what risks we are comfortable with and what dangers are unacceptable and keep us up at night. As a feline veterinarian, my job is to make sure each of you know what dangers your cats face and how to avoid these. Luckily, when it comes to preventing Heartworm disease, we now have several options, including safe and effective topical medication for finicky cats like Pumpkin. I urge all cat owners to make Heartworm disease an unacceptable risk. Losing a beloved pet is difficult. Knowing the death was preventable is tragic.

    More information can be found at http://www.knowheartworms.org and http://www.heartwormsociety.org

    Dr Diana Lafer

    Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

    Cats Limited Hospital
    1260 New Britain Avenue
    West Hartford, CT 06110

    Phone: (860) 561-9885
    Email: cats@catslimited.com

    Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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    Poisonous Plants

    March 29th, 2012


    When I think about poisonous plants and cats, I immediately think about Rocky, and how he survived lily poisoning.   His owner, Susan had come home from work and found him happily lounging on the rug next to a lily he had taken from a bouquet. He had never bothered flowers before, so Susan had thought the lilies would be safe.  Lucky for Rocky, Susan knew that this exposure could be toxic and that early intervention was critical.  Rocky was hospitalized and after several days of aggressive intravenous fluids and supportive care, Rocky went home to a safe, lily-free home, with mild, but manageable kidney damage. What a lucky guy!

    Lilies are perhaps the most common and the most poisonous plant your cat may encounter.  All parts of the lily are poisonous, including the yellow-brown pollen that so easily gets on your clothing (or your cat if he brushes up against the flowers).  Treatment is successful only if started early.

    While cats tend to be more cautious than dogs in regards to what they eat, they often surprise us by eating unusual things.   It is important to be aware of what dangers may lay in and around your house and how you can best keep your cat safe. Remember that since most cats are good groomers, they swallow particles from most things they touch.  In other words, whatever they touch, they swallow.  In addition, if your cat chews or eats part of a plant, they will also be swallowing any fertilizer and/or pesticides that were applied to the plant. Know that even if your cat looks fine, exposure to certain plants or other toxins requires early intervention for successful treatment. While many plants (such as Aloe) will usually cause obvious symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and lethargy) fairly quickly, for some toxins, by the time a cat shows symptoms of being sick, treatment may come too late.

    Other common plants that are poisonous to cats when eaten include:  Marijuana, Sago Palm (including the seeds and nuts), Tulip Bulbs, Azalea, Oleander, Castor Bean, Cyclamen (especially the root) and Yew.

    When looking to cat-proof your house (and yard), consult an expert source for information on poisonous plants. The ASPCA’s website has a very complete list at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control.  You can also reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 24 hours a day at 888-426-4435 (there is a fee for the consultation).  Please call your vet immediately if you think that your cat may have been exposed to a poisonous plant.

    Dr Diana Lafer

    Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

    Cats Limited Hospital
    1260 New Britain Avenue
    West Hartford, CT 06110

    Phone: (860) 561-9885
    Email: cats@catslimited.com

    Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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    Directions: Google | MapQuest | Yahoo!

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    That Mysterious Third Eyelid

    June 5th, 2011

    For many owners, the appearance of their cat’s third eyelid is cause for great concern and confusion.  Never fear- it can often indicate a problem, but with a little information, you can better determine why this might be happening and how quickly your cat needs professional medical attention.

    First, a bit of background:  The third eyelid provides an extra layer of eye protection for cats and many other animals.  Other names for the third eyelid include the nictitating membrane, nictitans and haw.  Arising from the corner of the eye nearest the nose, the retractable third eyelid can be hidden from view or can extend across the surface of the eye.  It is white to light pink in color and lies on top of the eye, but underneath the eyelids.  It contains cartilage and a tear-producing gland at its base.  When irritated, it can appear reddened.

    While birds and reptiles can actively move this protective eyelid into position, in cats the movement is passive. It is kept hidden by forward pressure of the eyeball in the socket. When danger to the eye is anticipated ( such as in a cat fight), cats use a special muscle behind the eye to pull it back into the socket slightly, allowing the third eyelid to quickly move up and across the surface of the eye. If the eye does become injured and painful, cats will use this special muscle to pull back the eye slightly and allow the third eyelid to cover the eye as protection.

    Damage to the nerve control of the third eyelid will also result in a prominent (or more visible) third eyelid.  Damage affecting one eye can occur due to an injury or inflammation after surgery (especially ear or dental surgery).

    If you notice that one of your cat’s third eyelids is covering one eye more than the other, it is likely that your cat has injured that eye.  Eye injuries are painful and can become serious quickly, so you should seek veterinary care right away.

    What does it mean if both third eyelids are visible?  There are a variety of reasons for this to occur.  First of all, when cats are in a deep sleep or have been given a sedative, the third eyelids can become prominent.  If your cat has lost a lot of weight, the fat pad behind the eyes may also have decreased in size, changing the position of the eye in the socket and allowing the third eyelid to become visible.  Rarely, inflammation due to a neurologic, respiratory or intestinal infection can affect the nerve control of the third eyelid.   Your cat should be examined by a veterinarian in order to determine a likely cause and how best to treat the condition.

    If you have never seen your cat’s third eyelid, and want to know what to look for, ask your veterinary at your cat’s next check-up.

    Dr Diana Lafer

    Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

    Cats Limited Hospital
    1260 New Britain Avenue
    West Hartford, CT 06110

    Phone: (860) 561-9885
    Email: cats@catslimited.com

    Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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