Name: Dr Eliza Sundahl

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

Bio:

Dr. Eliza Sundahl completed her veterinary studies at Kansas State University in 1978 after graduating from Boston University. She has spent a great deal of her professional life promoting feline medicine and continues to do so. She has held many positions in The American Association of Feline Practitioners, including 2 years as president. She was involved in establishing board certification in feline medicine through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and worked with that organization for many years to help veterinarians through the certification process.

Dr. Sundahl started at the KC Cat Clinic in 1978 and became owner in 1979. She has been happily working with the wonderful clients and patients at the clinic ever since. She feels like she has the best job in the world. She shares the clinic with Boo and Simon and her home with Babycat, Ferrous, Boo (another one), and Angelo.

Kansas City Cat Clinic
7107 Main St.
Kansas City, MO 64114

Phone: 816-361-4888
Email: kccatclinic@gmail.com

Website: http://www.kccatclinic.com/
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    The Heart Of The Matter

    July 11th, 2012

    examining a cat

    Probably one of the most frustrating things to come out of my mouth are the words “ I hear a heart murmur and it may or may not be a problem. “  So why can’t I just tell you straight up if there’s trouble or not? Well, just like that recent movie title, it’s complicated.  Why is it so frustrating?  Because it’s really important to know if the cat in front of you has a problem and you can’t tell that without doing more stuff.  About 40% of the cats with murmurs or gallops have significant disease. That may mean that you need to treat, manage other disease and anesthesia differently, or avoid anesthesia all together.  The other 60% have murmurs for other reasons and those cats may be just fine. You may even know people who are walking around with murmurs that don’t have a sick heart. But the thing is, you don’t know which cats are which on the exam table.  Cats are very different than other creatures in how they show you that they’re in trouble. While a dog or person might have a gradual onset of signs like cough, exercise intolerance or swollen legs, cats are fine one minute and in a crisis the next.  It is the primary reason to find a cat dead with no warning. It’s pretty easy to push a cat into heart failure if there’s significant disease with too much fluid, certain medicines and stress, so if your cat has a murmur,  your vet will  want to know what’s going on before doing certain treatment plans or surgery. And they look just fine before there’s trouble. There are a lot of cats out there with significant heart disease that don’t even have murmurs or gallops. Just like a cat, to hide every sign of illness it can.

    On top of everything else, getting an accurate diagnosis of just what’s going on in your cat’s heart isn’t easy. The only definitive test is a cardiac ultrasound performed by someone who is thoroughly familiar with cat hearts. X rays, ECGs and some newer blood tests can pick up sick hearts if they’ve progressed far enough into the disease, but those tests can be normal even when there’s a problem. So for my money, if I really need to know the status of my patient’s heart, I’m going to tell you to get a heart ultrasound so that you know for sure. Then we can develop a treatment plan that best manages the situation. Or.. go celebrate because everything looks great.

    You can stop reading now if you want. But if you are a detail person and need a little more explanation about what’s going on, keep going.

    Vets get that worried look on their brow if they hear any kind of abnormality when they are listening to your cat’s heart. Most of the time, that abnormality is in the form of a heart murmur or a three beat rhythm called a gallop. A murmur just means that you can hear the turbulence of blood as it courses through the heart.  You get it any time a flowing liquid meets up with an obstacle.  I kind of like the babbling brook analogy.  Water running through a nice clear PVC pipe doesn’t make much noise, but water running in a stream bed full of pretty rocks and boulders makes a pleasant, relaxing babbling sound. That stream has a murmur. How does that happen in a heart? In cats, the usual culprit is blood slapping up against a bulge of muscle that occurs when the heart contracts. Other things can happen too and the type of problem that causes it can be very different from animal to animal. When the heart muscle gets big, it’s called hypertrophy.  Parts of the heart can get so big that it actually impedes the out flow of blood and that’s when your cat gets in trouble.  Now sometimes, the electrical current that runs through the heart that coordinates all the opening and shutting of the valves, gets all messed up because of the muscle hypertrophy. That’s when you can hear the funny 3 beat rate called a gallop. That probably happens because the big heart muscle doesn’t let the electrical current pass through it evenly. So the valves may not close in tandem, and voila, you get 3 clear heart sounds.  Most of the time the pump (the heart), is doing its job trying to keep pushing blood through. But with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, one of the most common heart diseases,  the problem really is that the amount of blood that can be pumped out is so low because the big, stiff heart muscle getting in the way. It may be fine when a cat is resting, but when that heart rate increases, the muscle scrunches up and doesn’t let any blood get through.

    So there you have it. That’s why I’m going to tell you that your cat may or may not have significant heart disease. But I’m always going to recommend that you get it checked out because I don’t want your cat to be in that 40% that needs special attention.  I’m a happy vet when the ultrasound report says no problem.

    Dr Eliza Sundahl

    Dr. Eliza Sundahl completed her veterinary studies at Kansas State University in 1978 after graduating from Boston University. She has spent a great deal of her professional life promoting feline medicine and continues to do so. She has held many positions in The American Association of Feline Practitioners, including 2 years as president. She was involved in establishing board certification in feline medicine through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and worked with that organization for many years to help veterinarians through the certification process.

    Dr. Sundahl started at the KC Cat Clinic in 1978 and became owner in 1979. She has been happily working with the wonderful clients and patients at the clinic ever since. She feels like she has the best job in the world. She shares the clinic with Boo and Simon and her home with Babycat, Ferrous, Boo (another one), and Angelo.

    Kansas City Cat Clinic
    7107 Main St.
    Kansas City, MO 64114

    Phone: 816-361-4888
    Email: kccatclinic@gmail.com

    Website: http://www.kccatclinic.com/
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    Do we really know what it takes to keep a cat happy?

    May 18th, 2012

    For the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing to be a participant on a panel that will explore the need for environmental enrichment for our pet cats. What the heck is environmental enrichment, you might say? Sounds too complicated for what is thought to be a low maintenance pet. What it means is that you make allowances for an animal’s needs that you know are important to the way they would live if they could make their own choices. And I’m finding that lots of the things that I intuitively feel about a cat’s needs have actually been documented by some swell researchers that prove the need to add another level of consideration to care we give our cats.

    Here’s a little food for thought. If you were kept in the lap of luxury with fully nutritious cookies and crackers available 24/7, you’d like that, yes? But wait, there’s no books, no TV, no computer, no exercise room. But there’s plenty of cookies over in that one corner of the kitchen. You’re only allowed to be in this 15 room mansion and never given even a deck of cards to play solitaire. Maybe you’d have to live with 2 or 3 other people and one of them was a bully, not looking so good now, eh? Makes you really think about what it means to be truly happy as opposed to just taken care of. Zoos have known this for years. Think about the outrage you would have if a zoo didn’t take an animal’s behavioral needs into account when planning how to keep it.

    Cats have a job. It’s to be a hunter. They’ve developed amazing skills to be really good at this over thousands of years. We’ve only asked them to come inside and live with us maybe for the last 50 or 60 years. Through years of breeding we altered dog behavior and as well as form, but we never asked the cat to change their habits. We wanted good hunters and they obliged us. But when we decided to have them live inside exclusively, we didn’t like the stalking and pouncing on our leg behaviors, or we didn’t like that they needed really clean places to go to the bathroom, or we didn’t like them doing things that made them feel more secure like scratching the furniture. So, at first, we said that all those behaviors were “wrong”. Now we know that all those behaviors are “right” and that cats that don’t do them have done a remarkable job of adapting to a highly restrictive set of circumstances. Good thing too because most cats that are seen as doing “wrong” behavior end up in a shelter.

    Recognizing the need to improve a cat’s environment is the first step to helping your cat be happier living with you. Luckily, there are some really neat cheap and easy ways to do this. The most important thing is that you change your perspective and start seeing yourself as a good zookeeper as well as a loving owner.

    We feed them, protect them from injury and disease, and we shower our love on them with cuddles and coos. Most of us think that we are doing the best for our cats by making a physically safe environment. But now we know that we need to rethink the needs of this wonderful creature. It’s not enough to just keep them from the physical perils of their natural life style without working on their behavioral and emotional needs.

    There’s a ton of reliable information available to learn about creating a happy cat home. Here are some great resources to check out to start the journey. In a few months we’ll be able to add information from the American Association of Feline Practitioners guidelines too! I’m really looking forward to continuing my journey as well.

    http://indoorpet.osu.edu/
    https://ckm.osu.edu/sitetool/sites/indoorpetpublic/documents/handouts/Cats_Indoors_flier.pdf
    http://www.fabcats.org/behaviour/cat_friendly_home/info.html
    http://www.fabcats.org/behaviour/cat_friendly_home/playtime.html
    http://www.fabcats.org/behaviour/cat_friendly_home/Environmental_enrichment_JFMS%20article%20for%20website.pdf
    http://catvets.com/healthtopics/

    Dr Eliza Sundahl

    Dr. Eliza Sundahl completed her veterinary studies at Kansas State University in 1978 after graduating from Boston University. She has spent a great deal of her professional life promoting feline medicine and continues to do so. She has held many positions in The American Association of Feline Practitioners, including 2 years as president. She was involved in establishing board certification in feline medicine through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and worked with that organization for many years to help veterinarians through the certification process.

    Dr. Sundahl started at the KC Cat Clinic in 1978 and became owner in 1979. She has been happily working with the wonderful clients and patients at the clinic ever since. She feels like she has the best job in the world. She shares the clinic with Boo and Simon and her home with Babycat, Ferrous, Boo (another one), and Angelo.

    Kansas City Cat Clinic
    7107 Main St.
    Kansas City, MO 64114

    Phone: 816-361-4888
    Email: kccatclinic@gmail.com

    Website: http://www.kccatclinic.com/
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    The Mystery of Summer Drool

    August 1st, 2011

    A call came in yesterday from Oreo’s people telling us that Oreo was drooling like crazy, ropes and ropes of copious drool. Oreo’s a fine, strapping 2 year old kitty with a healthy curiosity. I started thinking about all those things that Dr. Ray talked about like bad teeth or something stuck in the mouth. Nausea also can make cats drool, though usually not in such excessive amounts and the kitties with nausea act like they don’t feel good. Oreo came in and sat on the exam table pretty much nonplussed. As a matter of fact he didn’t act bothered at all, except for the occasional fling of the head when his ropes of saliva drooped from his mouth. Yuk. He’s such a sweet boy and he let me get a really good oral exam. He had beautiful teeth and gums. Everything in his mouth, under his tongue, up on his palate and down his throat looked perfectly normal. What the heck was going on?

    I see one or two of these cases just about every year. It seems to last several hours to, rarely, several days. They tend to come in during warm weather and while I don’t have an exact answer, I’ve got a suspicion as to why it happens. Cats are notorious for drooling when they taste something bad. We see it sometimes with certain antibiotics and other things they might try to lick. Since I never have been able to find a problem in the mouth of one of these cats, it makes me wonder if there’s an unpleasant taste at work here, like a bug or something that they chomped on.

    But that never explained why the drooling seemed to last for so long. Then I heard a science related radio program that discussed how some people get a bad taste in their mouth after eating certain things. I think they were talking about certain varieties of pine nuts. The bad taste sometimes lasted for days and the theory was that there was some errant molecule sitting on a susceptible person’s taste bud receptor that made it keep sending the bad taste signal. It kept sending that yucky taste signal until the molecule finally floated off the receptor allowing it to return to normal. Now I don’t know if this is the answer to the mystery drool, but I wonder if there’s a subset of cats that eat just the right ant or other bug and gets a similar phenomenon. And then, being a cat, start to drool.

    Luckily, all my cases have resolved. Most are better in just a few hours but occasionally I’ll see one that last’s a day or so. I always treat with something to help the drool and make them more comfortable so I doubt that I’ll get a chance to test my theory. Always take your cat in to be checked if you see anything unusual like this. The first thing you have to be concerned about is that there’s something wrong with the mouth. But you may also find that your cat’s a candidate for “Mystery Cat Diagnosis”. Hmmm, maybe we should try to pitch that to cable TV.

    Dr Eliza Sundahl

    Dr. Eliza Sundahl completed her veterinary studies at Kansas State University in 1978 after graduating from Boston University. She has spent a great deal of her professional life promoting feline medicine and continues to do so. She has held many positions in The American Association of Feline Practitioners, including 2 years as president. She was involved in establishing board certification in feline medicine through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and worked with that organization for many years to help veterinarians through the certification process.

    Dr. Sundahl started at the KC Cat Clinic in 1978 and became owner in 1979. She has been happily working with the wonderful clients and patients at the clinic ever since. She feels like she has the best job in the world. She shares the clinic with Boo and Simon and her home with Babycat, Ferrous, Boo (another one), and Angelo.

    Kansas City Cat Clinic
    7107 Main St.
    Kansas City, MO 64114

    Phone: 816-361-4888
    Email: kccatclinic@gmail.com

    Website: http://www.kccatclinic.com/
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    Flowers and Fleas

    July 27th, 2011

    As I was reading a story in the life style magazine of the paper, I came across an ad proclaiming the virtues of “natural” flea repellents. Having just been inundated by a ton of cats with fleas the week before, I was inspired to write about fleas, flea products and to help dispel a myth or two. I’d had some clients who had been using an herbal flea collar that did nothing and made the cat smell like a volatile oils factory.  Poor kitty was still crawling with fleas.

    Now I’ve gone through acupuncture training and some herb courses, and know that there are some things in that arena that can be very helpful and work well for a variety of medical conditions. But I also know that just because something says “natural” doesn’t mean that it’s safe or effective. Most herbal flea products contain things like cedar oil, peppermint oil, clove oil, and other things that say “natural pyrethrin”. They can have a very strong smell that can last for days. That can be tough for an animal that is as sensitive to smells as cats are. Volatile oils can aggravate breathing problems; this is especially true of cedar oil. Stay away from these products if your cat has a history of breathing problems. Clove oil is toxic to cats. Skin reactions are common with all these products, especially if they are not pure. Oils are sometimes absorbed through the skin and peppermint oil can go deep. People who ingest peppermint oil on a regular basis might get changes in their liver enzymes.

    When it comes to parasite control, we live in a wonderful age. The products that come from the vet for flea control have a very high margin of safety. They can contain not only safe flea products but also a heartworm preventative that helps with intestinal parasite control. Our pet cats have the dubious honor of surpassing dogs in the incidence of intestinal parasites and positive heartworm tests. All this because dog owners are so good at using  their heartworm preventative and cat owners aren’t. And yes, those products can be smelly too, but usually just for a few hours. And yes, again, there will be the rare skin reaction. But the important thing is that they work great and have a well documented safety margin. They keep your family safe too. Those black specks of flea dirt have been shown to carry the bacteria that gives people, especially children, cat scratch disease. Control the fleas and you control the risk. Same for roundworms. They can get into people too.

    Treating fleas requires a multi-modal approach. You need to treat the adult fleas on the animal, but also any eggs that they lay. If the problem is bad enough, you may need to treat for eggs that are in the house. Adult fleas aren’t the problem in your house, the eggs are. You treat them differently. Control the egg production and you control the problem.  It can take 6 – 8 weeks before you can be sure that you’ve got the problem licked. That’s because you have to wait long enough to be sure no new fleas are hatching out. Talk to your vet about what’s going to work the best for you. And if you can use one product that can help with fleas, heartworm and intestinal parasites, do it.

    Keep in mind that Mother Nature has some very potent plants and just because they’re hers, doesn’t mean that they are the safest things. So be careful what you put on your cat and whose advice you listen to.

    Dr Eliza Sundahl

    Dr. Eliza Sundahl completed her veterinary studies at Kansas State University in 1978 after graduating from Boston University. She has spent a great deal of her professional life promoting feline medicine and continues to do so. She has held many positions in The American Association of Feline Practitioners, including 2 years as president. She was involved in establishing board certification in feline medicine through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and worked with that organization for many years to help veterinarians through the certification process.

    Dr. Sundahl started at the KC Cat Clinic in 1978 and became owner in 1979. She has been happily working with the wonderful clients and patients at the clinic ever since. She feels like she has the best job in the world. She shares the clinic with Boo and Simon and her home with Babycat, Ferrous, Boo (another one), and Angelo.

    Kansas City Cat Clinic
    7107 Main St.
    Kansas City, MO 64114

    Phone: 816-361-4888
    Email: kccatclinic@gmail.com

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

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    Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

    June 2nd, 2011

    You’ve gotten the results of a blood test and your veterinarian has just told you that your cat tested positive for FIV. Sometimes they even call it Feline AIDS. It’s very scary sounding and you don’t know what it means for your sweet cat. Rest assured that it doesn’t always mean that something terrible is imminent. If your cat isn’t showing any signs of illness when the test is done, with good care, it’s very likely that you will have a healthy, happy cat for years. Let’s talk about what FIV is, what it does, and how you manage it.

    Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV, is a member of a family of viruses called Retroviruses. One of the things that makes it so scary is that HIV is also in this family and we all have a lot of anxiety when we hear about anything remotely like that. A cousin of FIV is Feline Leukemia Virus. It’s a Retrovirus too. These viruses like to live in the cells of the immune system. FIV can live quietly for years and never start any trouble and our cats look and act absolutely normal. But when it does become active, it causes certain cells in the immune system to “turn off” and causes an immune deficiency syndrome. That means that cats start getting sick from infections that don’t ordinarily bother a cat with a normal ability to fight off disease. We don’t know what triggers one cat to stay healthy and another to activate the virus so it causes trouble, but we think that if we keep them as healthy as possible, their immune system can better keep the virus at bay.

    Cats get FIV almost exclusively from the bite of another cat. It isn’t shared by licking or grooming like Feline Leukemia Virus is. Cats that don’t fight don’t spread the disease. That’s probably why we see very little problem with spread within a household. It is unusual to see the virus in more than one cat in multi-cat households as long as cats are kept inside and there is little turnover. If a cat gets exposed to FIV, it takes about 2 months before a test will be positive. So a good rule of thumb is to test a cat when you adopt them into the household and then be sure to test again at least 2 months later. Cats that are positive for FIV should stay inside. They are more likely to fight with stranger cats and spread the disease, as well as being more likely to get sick from things that could be a real problem if your immune system goes on the blink.

    If cats are healthy, you’ll want to do whatever you can to keep them that way. Be vigilant in looking for signs of disease. Be aggressive with preventative medicine such a good dental care, parasite prevention, and regular twice a year physical exam and lab work. Then be aggressive about treating problems you find early. If your cat is sick with FIV, your vet will direct treatment specifically to the particular problem that is at hand. Illnesses can be very different from cat to cat. Discuss the treatment and management plan that works the best for you and your household with your vet. There is a vaccine for FIV but it will not help once a cat is exposed and has several concerns that should be discussed with your vet. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. It’s not for every cat.

    So the upshot is FIV doesn’t have to mean something awful. Working together with your veterinarian, you and your cat can have many healthy, comfortable years ahead of you.

    Dr Eliza Sundahl

    Dr. Eliza Sundahl completed her veterinary studies at Kansas State University in 1978 after graduating from Boston University. She has spent a great deal of her professional life promoting feline medicine and continues to do so. She has held many positions in The American Association of Feline Practitioners, including 2 years as president. She was involved in establishing board certification in feline medicine through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and worked with that organization for many years to help veterinarians through the certification process.

    Dr. Sundahl started at the KC Cat Clinic in 1978 and became owner in 1979. She has been happily working with the wonderful clients and patients at the clinic ever since. She feels like she has the best job in the world. She shares the clinic with Boo and Simon and her home with Babycat, Ferrous, Boo (another one), and Angelo.

    Kansas City Cat Clinic
    7107 Main St.
    Kansas City, MO 64114

    Phone: 816-361-4888
    Email: kccatclinic@gmail.com

    Website: http://www.kccatclinic.com/
    Facebook: Profile Page
    Directions: Google | MapQuest | Yahoo!

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