Browsing"Personal Opinion"

My Cat is Healthy – Or is it?

Feb 21, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Cat owners know their cats better than anyone, and as a cat owner, you are in a position to hugely impact the health and happiness of your cat. Here are a few hints to help you recognize if there is a problem early on.

Cats are fascinating creatures and are important family members. But they are not small dogs and they are not small people! They differ from people and dogs in that they have needed to survive on their own for approximately 10,000 years.1,2 Being solitary survivors, they have adapted to appear strong and healthy when they may not be.2 They also may not like another cat in the household, but they will rarely fight.3,4 These behaviors all work to prevent injury by their prey or another cat. Even though many now live in wonderful homes, they still maintain these behaviors.2

Fortunately, you know your cat better than anyone, and can pick up problems with these tips:

If your cat shows a change in its normal routines or behaviors, it is time for a check-up. An example is Herman who always loved to jump and climb, and raced up and down the stairs faster than the fastest Olympic skier (well maybe). His behavior changed, and although he still climbed the steps pretty quickly, he was much slower going down. He also didn’t go to his high perches anymore. His owner saw him looking at a perch and hesitating as to whether he should jump. Although the owner wasn’t sure whether he was just getting old, she brought him in for a checkup. Herman was diagnosed with severe arthritis in his knees and shoulders, and treatment was started after making sure he was otherwise healthy. His owner called me the other day to say that Herman is back up on his favorite high spots, and everyone moves aside when the “zoom-cat” goes up and down the stairs! Herman’s family was so happy to have the Herman that they loved and knew so well back.

Here is a list of changes in a cat’s normal patterns or behaviors, as well as abnormal behaviors, that can indicate that there is pain or sickness.5,6,7,8,9 The important word here is changes:

Changes in normal behaviors:

  • Appetite – decrease or increase
  • Grooming – overgrooming in one or more areas or not grooming so that matts are forming
  • Sleep – sleeping more or not as well
  • Activity – decrease or increase
  • Vocalizing – yowling and keeping you up at night when they never did; not meowing for treats or food as usual
  • Play – decreased

Abnormal behaviors:

  • Accidents outside the litter box – either over the edge or in another place. This can be either or both urine and stool, but usually it is one or the other
  • Aggressive with you or another pet – This may occur with touching or handling or at any time.
  • Getting on counters to get people food when they didn’t previously
  • Destroying furniture

One other tip – put a picture of your cat on the refrigerator or elsewhere where you can see it frequently. Each year, put another picture up. When you see a difference, contact your veterinarian. Years go by and we don’t notice the subtle changes – unless they hit us in the face. Please note the pictures of my Watson, who I adored and did everything for, but only put the pictures together after his death. In this case, I was giving 9 medications a day, so it was a matter of making a difficult decision that I would have made earlier if I had noticed the changes in the pictures.

Please contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs. Usually these can be avoided with routine preventive check-ups, which can identify other problems, such as hidden kidney or thyroid disease or dental disease before any signs occur. However, the combination of veterinary care and your detective work ensures the best for your cat. Herman’s family is happy they can keep him comfortable for much longer.

– Ilona Rodan
In memory of my friend, Jim, and Watson: Old age is not a disease.

 


References:

  1. Driscoll CA, Menotti-Raymond M, RocaAL et a l.: The Near Eastern origin of cat domestication, Science 317:519, 2007.
  2. Bradshaw JWS, Casey RA, and Brown SL, The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat, 2nd edition, CABI Publ, 2012.
  3. Griffin B, Hume KR: Recognition and management of stress in housed cats, in August J (ed): Consultations in Feline Internal Medicine, vol 5. St. Louis, Elsevier, pp 717-734, 2006.
  4. Notari L:Stress in veterinary behavioural medicine, in Horwitz D, Mills D (eds): BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine, ed 2. Gloucester, British Small Animal Veterinary Association, pp 136-145, 2009.
  5. Sparkes AH, et al., ISFM and AAFP Consensus Guidelines: Long-term Use of NSAIDs in Cats, J Fel Med & Surg, 2010 (12)521-538.
  6. Robertson SA, Lascelles BDX, Long-Term Pain in Cats: How Much Do We Know about This Important Welfare Issue? J Fel Med & Surg, 2010 (12) 188-189.
  7. Benito J, Gruen ME, et al., Owner-assessed indices of quality of life in cats and the relationship to the presence of degenerative joint disease, J Fel Med & Surg, 2012 (14) 863-870.
  8. Lascelles BDX, et al. Evaluation of a digitally integrated accelerometer-based activity monitor for the measurement of activity in cats, Vet Anaesth Analg, 2008 (35) 173-183.
  9. Bennett D, Osteoarthritis in the Cat: 1. How common is it and how easy to recognize, J Fel Med & Surg, 2012, (14) 65-75.

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
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Tips for Adopting a Stray Cat

Feb 2, 2014 by     6 Comments    Posted under: Behavior, Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

It is easy to welcome a well socialized kitten into your home, but what about an abandoned kitten or a hungry stray cat who adopts you? Kittens (or cats) who have not had good early socialization can be guided along the path to a healthy happy relationship with people. Behavior is shaped by two opposing forces. One is repetition: each time we respond to a certain stimulus in a certain way, we are more likely to respond the same way in the future. The opposite force is extinction: the longer we go without repeating a behavior, the less likely we are to act the same way. For example, the more frequently you walk by a doughnut shop without stopping,the less likely it is that you will stop. These two principles will guide our behavior modification strategy as we integrate a new cat into our family.

It is helpful to view these felines as having low self-esteem and needing a wide personal space. Because of minimal or non-existent past socialization, these felines are always on high alert. When a person or animal enters that cat’s personal space, its defensive neurons prepare to fire. In the opposite situation, if we allow the cat to enter our personal space, the defensive neurons are subdued. Over time, if those neurons do not fire, the behavior they elicit ( e.g. running away, hissing, scratching) will be eliminated. Although, it is counterintuitive, the best way to make a cat feel safe is to ignore it. Do not make direct eye contact. Staring can be seen as a threat. Allow the cat to come to you for attention. When it feels secure, the cat will begin to join your social group, first by sitting at the periphery or choosing to come into the room. Gradually the kitty will get closer to you, perhaps sitting on one end of the sofa while the you sit at the other. One day the cat will sit next to you. Even then , for the first few times resist the urge to reach out and pat him. He may begin to rub his scent on you, thereby making you familiar to him. The same logic should be followed when you are standing. Once comfortable, you may be graced with a happy cat weaving in and out and rubbing up against your legs. Resist the temptation to reach down. ( We’ve all done that with a hunger aroused cat, only to be feel the claws against our skin!)

Monitor the cat’s level of socialization by observing his sleeping pattern. It is not uncommon for a client to note that a newly adopted cat will get up on the bed once the person is asleep, when cat knows he is safe from unwanted attention, and depart as soon as the person wakes up. At first the kitty will sleep at the end of the bed in case he needs to make a fast exit. Gradually he will come closer to sleep near or next to this now less threatening human.

When adopting a cat whose early life was not one of security and comfort, it is best to see things through the cat’s eyes. In the wild, cats are hunters for their food, but also prey for many other species. From that perspective, in your home, you are viewed as a predator and the cat is in alien territory. Ask yourself what would make the house a more welcoming environment? One solution would be provide multiple hiding spaces at different heights for escape during times of sensory overload. A threatened cat will go to a place in which he feels secure to process all the incoming information. Place food dishes in multiple places for the same reason- giving the kitty many options to sneak out and eat. The same logic is true for litter boxes. Use more than one box and place them far apart so he can establish safe routes to them. Creating a “safe room”, e.g. a spare bedroom where no other animals are allowed to enter, for a cat is also an option- with food, water, litter pan, and resting places- that he can call his own

The physical environment is not the only one to modify to help a less confident cat or kitten become well integrated into your family. A cat’s senses are much more acute than ours. Two more questions arise as you welcome this feline into your home are. What does my house sound like? What does my house smell like? Cats can hear higher frequencies even into the ultrasonic range. They can hear sounds 2.5 octaves higher than either people or dogs, have movable ears which allow them to pinpoint location of sounds. Their hearing is approximately 10x as sensitive compared to humans. Imagine what loud music sounds like to a cat! Even the noise of everyday life can be jarring; another reason why cats, are inclined to be nocturnal. The cat’s sense of smell is also markedly different than ours- they have 20 times the olfactory cells that people do. Many things we think smell good, cats find repulsive- citrus is one good example. It is best to keep the air clean. Avoid using scented candles, room air fresheners, potpourri.

The poorly socialized cat has a large hurdle to overcome. Because he responds to human contact the way he learned to survive outdoors, the cat may become labeled as unfriendly, mean, or nasty. It takes a great deal of patience, understanding, and time to convince a cat with this background that he will be loved and is being given a secure, comforting home. The reward however is great. Ask anyone who has welcomed a neglected cat or kitten into their home.

It makes a heart sing to see a previously scared, wide-eyed, ears back kitty ask for head bumps or curl up contentedly purring in one’s lap.

Dr Kathleen Keefe Ternes

Dr. Kathleen Keefe Ternes grew up in western Massachusetts. She received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1974; a BS degree in 1978 and a DVM in 1979 from Michigan State University. Dr. Keefe Ternes returned home to New England in April 1980. In 1984, she achieved one of her professional goals by opening The Feline Hospital in Salem, MA. . Dr. Keefe Ternes, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), initially certified as a companion animal specialist in 1990. She became certified as a feline specialist in 2000 and recertified in 2010. Dr. Keefe Ternes is a member of AAFP, the AVMA, the MVMA, and her local organization, the Veterinary Association of the North Shore (VANS). Her involvement in organized medicine includes having been a past president of VANS and current member of the board of directors. She is also a case reviewer for the ABVP and recently joined the Feline Welfare Committee of the AAFP.

Dr. Keefe Ternes lives in Salem with her husband and two college age daughters. Her two senior cats Toby and Petunia keep her on her toes medically.

The Feline Hospital
81 Webb St
Salem, MA 01970

Phone: 978-744-8020
Email: thefelinehospital@gmail.com

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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

Website: http://www.westsidehospitalforcats.com/
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Could My Cat be Allergic to His Food??

Nov 15, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Recently one of our clinic kitties, “O’Malley”, began vomiting and losing weight. In addition to blood work and fecal testing, we started a food trial on him. We initially saw improvement in both his weight and vomiting, but after 6 months, he began to show signs again which caused us to investigate his “compliance”. Below is a discussion of food trials, including reasons and pitfalls.

Cats can have reactions to food causing gastrointestinal signs (vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, weight loss), sometimes skin signs (excessive licking or scratching, hair loss, skin irritations and lesions on the skin, lips, paw pads or ears), and even respiratory signs (coughing , wheezing, trouble breathing, asthma signs). Interestingly, allergies are not typically associated with sneezing or runny eyes in cats the way we think about it in people.

The reactions can be true allergies (involving an immunologic response) or non-immunologic (food poisoning, reactions to toxins or additives in the food).

Diet trails are recommended by your veterinarian to see if your cat’s clinical signs improve or resolve once the diet is changed. Trials can take anywhere from 2-12 weeks to see response. Blood testing for allergies measures levels of immunoglobulin E (Ig E) and is not accurate for food allergies or sensitivities because not all allergic reactions are mediated by IgE, nor or all food reactions mediated by the immune system.

The diets that are recommended may be single source protein and carbohydrate diets that your cat has never eaten or hydrolyzed protein diets (where the proteins are broken down so tiny as to not cause a reaction). A veterinary therapeutic diet is recommended because over the counter diets are often not pure and can still contain protein sources to which your cat has previously been exposed.

Pitfalls include supplementing your cat with treats or other food sources to which he is still sensitive or allergic to, feeding over the counter diets, cats not wanting the new food, or cross reaction between the protein in the recommended diet and a protein to which your cat is sensitive. Examples might be turkey cross-reacting with a chicken allergy.

You may need to keep your cat indoor to ensure he is not scavenging food at the neighbors’ and you may need to use dry kibble or baked canned of the prescription diet as treats so that visitors will not be tempted to feed your cat non-prescription treats. All medications should be checked to make sure they do not contain proteins in the liquid or capsule that could create reaction. This includes heartworm and flea medications.

In some cases you may chose to cook a homemade diet for your kitty. If so, it is recommended you consult with a board certified veterinary nutritionist to formulate your cat’s diet. Check the acvn.org website to find a nutritionist in your area.

So, what happened to O’Malley? Well, we ruled out clients and staff members as a source for “supplementation” of his diet and performed an abdominal ultrasound on him. The findings indicate some intestinal and liver disease that did not show up on blood work and is worsening despite the food trial. He is scheduled to have biopsies of his in the next week and we will keep you posted on his case!

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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What to Look for When Adopting a Kitten

Oct 24, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

The excitement surrounding the decision to bring a kitten into your household is only surpassed by the act itself. When choosing your kitten, some knowledge of kitten development or socialization will help you pick the best kitten for your family.

Socialization in kittens begins at 2-9 weeks of age. During this period gentle handling by people helps kittens build self- confidence, while learning to interact with other animals and people. This experience will carry over into other social situations throughout the cat’s life. If kittens have not been properly socialized, they are at increased risk to develop negative traits: They are more likely to be fearful of human contact and to be less able to adjust to unfamiliar situations. For example, a cat who is as gentle as a lamb at home, may become a ferocious tiger at the veterinary clinic.

When choosing a kitten, it is easy to be swayed by a beautiful coat, color or markings . It is also tempting to choose a kitten by sex. Yet, the most important trait is temperament. Here are a few guidelines to maximize a successful introduction and to prepare your newest member for a lifelong place in your family. Whether you adopt a kitten from a private family or shelter, or purchase a kitten from a pet store or breeder, it would be ideal if you could observe the kitten interact with its siblings. Kittens learn much from playing with each other.

The little mewing of “Ouch, you’re hurting me” as one kitten is chomping on another kitten’s ear, begins the feedback to learn what is too painful for play. Watch the kittens carefully: Which kittens are actively engaged in play with each other? When you meet them, who comes up to explore? If you pick up a kitten does it nuzzle into your arms, crawl up your shirt, or otherwise give indications that it is comfortable being held? These behaviors (exploration, play and a willingness to be held) indicate that the kitten has been well socialized.

Now the rest is up to you. Construct an environment in which your kitten will flourish. Teach your kitten the proper way to play. Do not use your hands as a toy. Having an eight or ten week old kitten chew on your fingers may seem harmless; the same behavior in an adult cat will be painful. Always hold something in your hand when playing, even if it is a pen, to reinforce that your body is not a plaything. Cat play is often aggressive. It is often initiated by one kitten leaping up and biting another and running away in hopes of being pursued. This is how your kitten expects you to behave when it begins a game of “ankle attack” as you walk down the hallway. Do not respond: have a toy to redirect his attention. Schedule regular play time. Keep in mind that cats are nocturnal. Many of our feline friends get what I call the “ten o’clock crazies” – just when you are ready for sleep, 15 minutes of energetic play in the late evening will help defuse potential kitten trouble and let you get a good night’s sleep.

Take your kitten for rides in the car in its carrier. This will expand his confidence by making the carrier and the car familiar parts of his routine instead of the vehicle whose only purpose is to transport him from the safety and security of home to anxiety and unfamiliarity of the veterinarian’s office. Carriers should be brought out on a regular basis to be explored with no imminent trip scheduled. Place treats in the back of the carrier, leave the door open and walk away. What a pleasant surprise as the kitten explores the “new space” and discovers it contains treasures. When the time comes for a veterinary visit, the carrier and the car will be tranquil extensions of home which will allow the kitten to arrive in a secure state of mind. These kitten visits are good times to make sure your new family member is growing well both physically and emotionally. They also offer you the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional guidance

Nevertheless, kittens or cats who have not had good early socialization, can be guided along the path to a healthy happy relationship with the humans in their lives. Those strategies will be discussed in my next blog post.

Dr Kathleen Keefe Ternes

Dr. Kathleen Keefe Ternes grew up in western Massachusetts. She received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1974; a BS degree in 1978 and a DVM in 1979 from Michigan State University. Dr. Keefe Ternes returned home to New England in April 1980. In 1984, she achieved one of her professional goals by opening The Feline Hospital in Salem, MA. . Dr. Keefe Ternes, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), initially certified as a companion animal specialist in 1990. She became certified as a feline specialist in 2000 and recertified in 2010. Dr. Keefe Ternes is a member of AAFP, the AVMA, the MVMA, and her local organization, the Veterinary Association of the North Shore (VANS). Her involvement in organized medicine includes having been a past president of VANS and current member of the board of directors. She is also a case reviewer for the ABVP and recently joined the Feline Welfare Committee of the AAFP.

Dr. Keefe Ternes lives in Salem with her husband and two college age daughters. Her two senior cats Toby and Petunia keep her on her toes medically.

The Feline Hospital
81 Webb St
Salem, MA 01970

Phone: 978-744-8020
Email: thefelinehospital@gmail.com

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Tips for Living with Cats

Sep 12, 2013 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Some tips on living with cats. We all have favorites we’ve learned, so please post your favorite tips in the “comments” section!

  1. Use baking soda to clean litter boxes – “green” cleaner and no residual odor.
  2. Use the empty cardboard tube from a paper towel roll to make a “food puzzle” for feeding dry food. Cover the ends of the tube and cut a small hole, so the cat has to work to get the food out.
  3. A great way to get young cats started on home dental care is letting them lick the cat toothpaste (designed to be swallowed, unlike human paste). Then, get a child’s toothbrush, put paste on and let the cat chew the paste, so your kitty gets used to the feel of the toothbrush in their mouth.
  4. If kitty is getting too heavy because everyone in the household is feeding “just a handful” of dry food or treats, measure the amount for the day into a covered container and let the family know they need to portion out.
  5. “Stair-steps” may help your older cat reach its favorite chair or bed, if they can no longer jump. (Also see your veterinarian, to make sure there are no medical problems or medications needed).
  6. Heated pet beds are great for older or arthritic cats.
  7. I used to rinse food dishes but after my cat developed chin acne, drying the dishes well (I use glass) has prevented any further acne problems.
  8. For medicating cats, ask your veterinarian for a 3 cc syringe, cut off the tip (so no narrow tip), put pill in meat baby food and use the syringe to administer.
  9. Another tip on medicating cats: mix a jar of strained meat baby food with a jar of water, or mix a can of tuna with can of water and blend. Freeze in ice cube trays, and take out one “cube” as needed.

And, a couple of tips from Maryland Veterinary Behaviorist, Dr. Marsha Reich:

  1. Pain can cause or contribute to behavior problems. Omega-3 “fish oil” products may help; talk to your veterinarian about stronger pain meds if needed.
  2. For cats that bolt their food: try mini-muffin tins, to slow the cat down when eating.

As always, please consult your veterinarian any time your cat “isn’t right” or if these simple steps aren’t enough to help your cat.

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
Email: messages@acatclinic.us

Website: http://www.acatclinic.us/
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Why Cats Pee on Your Stuff – A Veterinarian’s Perspective

Sep 5, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Behavior, Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

In a recent blog contribution, Dr. Ray recommended trying to evaluate a cat’s litter box from a cat’s perspective.  Boy, was his article timely!  I just had one of the more frustrating conversations I have had with a client about their cats that were not reliably using their boxes and feel really badly for this owner’s cats, because the owner was not willing to listen to what I had to say about making the litter boxes desirable for the cats, not him.  I get that we want cats to easily integrate into our homes and that one of their more desirable characteristics is that they are supposed to be clean and low maintenance, but the reality is that though cats have been domesticated, they remain guided mostly by their instincts.

For more than two decades now, people have recognized that for most cats it is not safe for them to roam freely outdoors.  Cats have become cherished family members rather than utilitarian mousers that were almost considered by some to be disposable.  I absolutely celebrate this fact, but am disturbed that a lot of cat owners don’t take the time to learn about cat care and how to create the optimum environment for one or more cats when they bring home a cat.  Most people wouldn’t think about getting a reptile or another exotic pet without making sure they insured the pet would have the right habitat, but lots of people with take home a kitten and assume providing food and water and a litter box is all they will need.

The reality is that though most cats are low maintenance, the environment from their perspective (read not ours) is super important for the cat to thrive and to be healthy.  It is paramount that all cat owners understand the concept of resource availability as a cat sees it.  Resources for a cat refers to their ability to procure food, water, a comfortable place to rest and access to their litter pan without feeling threatened. Keep in mind that what a cat is threatened by can be very different than what a person is threatened by.  Just like people’s personalities and anxiety levels vary, cats are not all wired the same.  And just because a cat is a cat and another cat is a cat, it doesn’t mean they will like each other any more than two strangers will like one another.  Think about it – would you meet a stranger on the street and within minutes ask that person to come home to live with you?  That is sort of what most of us do when we acquire cats and decide to get them a cat buddy.  We bring the buddy cat home and tell the original cat to enjoy their new friend.  What if they don’t have any “chemistry” together?

So, let’s continue to celebrate cats and protect them from the various threats they can encounter outdoors, but let’s all try real hard to remember to periodically evaluate the home we offer our cat or cats from a cat’s perspective.  Those of us who want to share our home with a cat, need to remember that is what we are doing. We are sharing, so it can’t be all on our terms!

Dr Diane Eigner

Diane Eigner graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1980. Dr. Eigner established her exclusively feline practice, The Cat Doctor, in Philadelphia in 1983, and began offering house call services at the Jersey Shore in 1991. She is a past president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School Alumni Society, a Past President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and is a member of the advisory board of Harcum Junior College’s Veterinary Technical School. Diane has been the consulting veterinarian for the Morris Animal Refuge since 1983. Doctor Eigner’s column “Ask The Cat Doctor” appeared in the Cat Fancier’s Almanac from 1996-2000. Diane joined the Catalyst Council’s board as the American Association of Feline Practitioner’s representative in 2009. She is now serving as the immediate past-chair of the Catalyst Council.

An avid Sailor, Diane loves nothing better than to be at the Jersey shore where she keeps her sailboat, Purrfect, and where she has a second home. Since meeting her husband, Fred Turoff, Temple University’s Men’s gymnastics team head coach, her family life has been dominated by men’s gymnastics. Her son Evan is a level ten gymnast that competes nationally and will join her husband’s division I men’s gymnastics team in the fall.. Diane also shares her life with three very entertaining cats. Though she shouldn’t have a favorite, her Sphynx cat, Velvet, which she rescued at the shelter where she consults, is the cat love of her life. Her integrated home also includes a Welsh Corgi named Twinks, two Cornish Rex cats, Naui and Padi and a Russian Tortoise.

The Cat Doctor
535 North 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Phone: (215) 561-7668
Fax: (215) 561-3616
Email: meow@thecatdr.com

Website: http://www.thecatdr.com
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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
Email: cathospital@catdoc.com

Website: http://www.catdoc.com/
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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
Email: messages@acatclinic.us

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Cast a Spell on Me – Old Wives’ Tales: Fact or Fiction? (Part 2 of 2)

Jul 24, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Personal Opinion

If you missed it: Cast a Spell on Me – Is the Cat a God or the Devil? (Part 1 of 2)

What exactly is an Old Wives’ Tale?  And why do cats feature so prominently in them?  These tales are fables and legends passed on through the generations in an effort to explain the inexplicable or predict fate.  So many involve cats because, well, cats are the ultimate in inexplicable behavior and their general unwillingness to do humans’ bidding has resulted in the profoundly divided feelings so many people have for cats.

Old Wives’ Tales were rampant during the 1600s and on, and most were not in the cat’s favor, although the classic American warning to beware a black cat crossing your path was interpreted very differently over in Europe.  There it was seen as a sign of good luck and potential financial windfall.  Worry about black cats in the United States began during the Puritan times and derived from their association with witches and Satanism, and to this day, black cats frequently are the last to be adopted from shelters and rescue organizations.  There is still a pervasive belief that cats, especially black cats, are a source of danger and corruption.

Here are a few classics from the Old Wives’ Tales hall of fame, some of which might actually hold a kernel of truth:

Cats can place curses on pregnant women

This originated from the idea that cats are connected to the devil, and that they have demonic powers that allow them to be very dangerous and evil—particularly to pregnant women and young children—but able to avoid harm themselves.  The actual curse on pregnant women involved harm to the unborn baby.  This could be through stillbirth, mental impairment or generalized birth defects resulting in life-long problems or even death.  Obviously, a curse is a bit far-fetched.  What is less of a stretch, though, is what happens to pregnant women infected with a cat parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, which has been implicated in causing a wide range of infant birth defects.

Cats can kill young children with a single scratch

Well, we know bacteria can kill anyone during the right circumstances.  And in rural areas with poor nutrition and rudimentary medications, infected wounds from bacteria associated with cat bites and scratches can probably occasionally result in bad medical outcomes.  We also know cat scratch disease, Bartonella hensalae, can cause significant medical problems, and it would not be unheard of for a young child with a compromised immune system to become sick or even die from that bacterial organism.

Cats suck the breath from babies

Tragedy is always difficult to bear, and it is human nature to try to find an explanation.  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is both tragic and unpredictable, and the Old Wives’ Tale of cats sucking the breath from infants probably derives from this event.  The danger to babies would come from an angry cat who was jealous of the newborn infant and upset about the loss of attention.  These cats would seek the opportunity to smother infants in their cribs.  Does this sound crazy?  Well, as recently as 2000, an infant death was originally attributed to the cat lying in the crib with the dead baby.  That cause of death was later documented as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but the myth about cats sucking the breath from babies is still—to this day—pervasive.  During the 1800s, women routinely testified at coroner’s inquests about their cats “sucking the wind” from infants and killing them by shoving their nose in the baby’s mouth while the baby was sleeping.  In 1929, a Nebraska doctor said that he’d seen “the family pet in the very act of sucking a child’s breath, lying on the baby’s breast, a paw on either side of the babe’s mouth, the cat’s lips pressing those of the child and the infant’s face pale as that of a corpse, its lips with the blueness of death.”  Pretty dramatic stuff!  But cats as we know are attracted to warmth, and may cuddle with a child, who might lack the ability to turn its head away or push the cat off, and the rest…

So, our relationship with the number one pet in America is complicated.  We have a much more matter of fact relationship with our dogs.  There is nowhere near the number of dog superstitions or phobias, and the dog was neither worshipped as a god nor was it demonized as an emissary of Satan.  Instead we find heroic dogs like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.  Not so with the cat.  And because the relationship between cats and their humans has been so confusing, so unpredictable, it is easy to blame the mysterious and sinister cat for unexplained problems and maladies.  Everyone likes to find a reason for tragedy and misfortune, and for much of the last several centuries, the cat was a believable culprit.

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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