Browsing"Tips & Advice"

Here’s Looking At You: Eyes Part One

Apr 21, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

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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Cats and Easter Lilies – a Deadly Combination!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Cindy McManis

Dr. Cynthia McManis received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University in 1985. She developed her interest in cats during her first year post-graduation. She began to actively pursue more education and information regarding feline health care and joined the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1989. When the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners approved feline practice as a specialty board in 1995, she was in the first class to sit for the exam. She is 1 of 90 board certified feline practitioners in the country at this time. Dr. McManis founded Just Cats Veterinary Services in 1994.

Outside of her clinic cases, she is a feline internal medicine consultant for Veterinary Information Network, a web based resource for veterinarians all over the world. She has also served on several committees within the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). She established an ABVP residency site at Just Cats in 2008 and mentors new graduates as well as seasoned practitioners who are interested in achieving ABVP certification.

Dr. McManis is an avid triathlete and is constantly training for races. She completed her first Iron Man in May of 2012. She is owned by 2 home kitties- Amante (“Monty”) and La Mariquita (“Mari”), and 2 hospital kitties- Momma Kitty and O’Malley.

Just Cats Veterinary Services
1015 Evergreen Circle
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Phone: (281) 367-2287
Email: vets@justcatsvets.com

Website: http://www.justcatsvets.com/
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Parasites and the Inside Cat: Why it Makes Sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Cathy Lund

Cathy Lund, DVM, owns and operates City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats, a cat practice located in Providence, RI. She is also the board president and founder of the Companion Animal Foundation, a statewide, veterinary-based nonprofit organization that helps low-income pet owners afford essential veterinary care. She lives in Providence, and serves on several architectural and preservation commissions in the city, and is on the board of directors of WRNI, RI’s own NPR station. But her favorite activity is to promote the countless virtues of the “purr-fect” pet, the cat!

City Kitty
18 Imperial Pl # 1B
Providence, RI 02903-4642

Phone: (401) 831-6369
Email: email@city-kitty.com

Website: http://www.city-kitty.com/
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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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Yikes! My Dog Attacked My Cat!

Feb 16, 2014 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Behavior, Tips & Advice

You might find it surprising that many Feline Docs like and have dogs! After all, we are Feline Docs and have chosen to limit our practices to just cats. The stories of how our canine companions came about are frequently similar to those of our cats- abandoned, adopted or otherwise acquired-sometimes because a human companion came with their own dog, or maybe they said they couldn’t live without one so we acquiesced. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2011, 36.4% of dog owners in the US also own a cat, while 46.7% of cat owners also own a dog!

I’m in that 46.7% of cat owners, and I am my dog Luka’s third owner. I took him into my home three years ago after a pleading call from a girlfriend who described the sad situation. Luka, a 5 year old Standard Poodle, needed a home because his owner had recently passed away from malignant melanoma after a two year battle. The dog had been his constant companion and the co-owner would be moving away and unable to keep Luka. My friend had known my prior dog, Charley, a wonderful Standard that had lived to nearly 14 years of age. And while the chapter of needing a hypoallergenic pet was closed and I’d had only cats for several years, my memories of Charley at that age made me ask more. “How is he with cats?” I asked. “He’s at a shelter nearby where there are lots of cats around and he seems fine with them,” she replied. “Why don’t you come take a look?” As luck would have it, my best friend from veterinary college was flying in for a visit, and Susan knows dogs like no one else I know. So the next day when I picked her up at the airport I asked her if she wanted to go see this dog that needed a home. By the time we arrived at the shelter it was dark, and all the animals had been fed and bedded down. The friend who was caring for Luka brought him to us and he immediately looked at Susan and me as if to say “it’s dark and lonely here, won’t you please take me home?” We walked him to the cat area and even got a couple of cats out to see how he’d respond; Luka was more interested in me than the cat. We left him there that night because I wanted some time to think and be sure, even though on the way home when I asked Susan what she thought she said, “I think I can’t believe we left without that dog…” A few days later, Luka came to stay with me.

The cats were not especially welcoming. This alien was nowhere near like Charley, the ancient and benevolent curly-coated creature that lay on his dog bed for most of the day and night, allowing them to claim him as their own with their cheek rubs and massage. A soft and warm fur-lined bed was just fine to share. No, this dog was raucous and rambunctious, more of an unmannered wild child than a proper and pedigreed poodle. Environment enrichment and veterinary behaviorist counseling ensued with small gains. Still, even on car rides or walking in the neighborhood with no cats in sight, Luka became so aroused when he’d see (or smell) other dogs or squirrels that he’d go ballistic inside the car or on the leash attached to a Gentle Leader® head collar or harness. For anyone familiar with Emotional Intelligence, Luka seemed to be having repeated episodes of over-reacting to stressful situations, a series of seemingly never-ending amygdala hijacks. We became banned from dog parks and ostracized in the community.

Indoors it got better. Separation of feeding areas, positive reinforcement and clicker training helped some (at least the owner). I’m convinced Adaptil® pheromone collars and plug in diffusers have done a little more, and with time, patience and avoidance of trigger situations (a calming cap to cover his eyes while riding in the car was quite helpful) plus anti-anxiety medication, I was starting to feel pretty good about the progress in the dog and cats’ relationship. One night I was sitting on the kitchen floor with Luka on one side of my legs and my grey cat Paddy on the other side. I saw relaxed body language from both- forward ears on Paddy, relaxed on Luka, both pets’ eyelids blinking slowly, almost droopy. I thought I should reward that behavior and began to speak in a slow, low positive voice, “what a sweet Paddy…good boy, Luka…” stroking each with the hand closest to them. I probably should have called it a day and just stopped there, but decided to reward them with treats from my pocket. WRONG TIME AND PLACE! Luka wanted that resource-the treat- I’d just offered to the cat, and in a split second he jumped up, charged over my leg and had his mouth on Paddy who had sprung into retreat mode with wails seemingly of anger, fear and possibly pain. The water dish that was in the way exploded into dozens of shards and projectiles as I scrambled and screamed to break up the interaction. Whose amygdala was hijacked in that scene, and what did that do? I reasoned that the flight and fight responses from Paddy and I possibly saved his life, though he’s pretty resourceful with retreat and he doesn’t hold a grudge. Even though he had suffered a superficial laceration, the next day at Luka’s dinner time he was back, seemingly teasing and taunting the dog while staying in areas where he could escape in case there was another outburst.

Fortunately, Luka-like interactions are uncommon. The three most important things to know about cat and dog co-ownership are:

  1. Be proactive and have a safe and enriched environment for all your pets. Dr. Tony Buffington and the Indoor Pet Initiative of The Ohio State University
  2. Understand that cats are not small dogs. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has information about normal cat behavior and how to provide outlets for that with examples in their Feline Behavior Guidelines.
  3. Utilize the expertise of a licensed veterinarian Board-Certified in Veterinary Behavior or with additional training in veterinary behavior and are members of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior

Nearly half of all cat owners also own a dog and a third of all dog owners also have a cat, and most live in harmony even with their differences. Luka and Paddy are learning, and there’s a lesson in that for us, too.

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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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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What should I feed my Cat?

Jan 26, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

We always get dietary questions. One of the most common is “Does dry food make cats fat?” “Is canned food better for cats than dry?” With everything about diet, there is never a simple answer.

Dry food has the advantage for those of us that live with cats that it has preservative and can be left out without fear of spoilage. Canned food on the other hand does not have preservative and does not do well once the can is opened. One of the basic facts is that canned food is calorically harder to over feed than dry food. Most cats need between 200 and 250 kcal/day. Most 5.5 oz cans of cat food have 195 kcals.

Many dry foods have upwards of 550 kcal/cup. A 1/2 cup of food looks like very little to most people’s eye. Dry is extremely easy to overfeed. Cats like the texture and taste so they will eat whatever is put in front of them. Getting twice you daily caloric need is an easy way to gain weight.

Cats naturally spend a lot of energy to get their calories. Mouse has about 50 kcals and cats eat anywhere from 4-5/day. It takes a cat about 5 tries to catch a mouse. Once they do, nap time. The process starts again. Pretty exciting life don’t you agree?

Now lets go inside to a cozy apartment. There is an over abundance of food and no work or stimulation to acquire it. Makes for a great recipe to gain weight. There are certainly other differences between canned and dry, but I am only looking at the caloric aspect at this point.

Whatever method of feeding you choose, remember the calorie count. Try to get your cat 5 or more small meals per day. Technology and automatic feeders can be your best friend. If you choose to feed dry, use a measuring cup. If canned is easier, you may want to consider a feeder so that your cat can get a mid day meal.

One very important criterion is to monitor you cat’s progress. Be sure and ask you veterinarian for more details and help for your cat’s specific nutritional needs.

Dr Marcus Brown

Dr. Brown, founder of the NOVA Cat Clinic and co-founder of the NOVA Cat Clinic, received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1986 from the University of Illinois. Currently the medical director for Alley Cat Allies and is an active supporter in local, state and national feline organizations such as: American Veterinary Dental Society, American Association of Feline Practitioners, American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Brown also contributed the creation of the Association of Feline Practitioners’ 2009 Wellness Guidelines for Feline Practitioners.

Dr. Brown enjoys continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences across the country focusing on the advancement in feline veterinary care. Dr. Brown also utilizes on-line discussion groups and veterinary networks to assist the clinic in maintaining the highest level of care and providing the newest treatments available in feline medicine.

NOVA Cat Clinic
923 N. Kenmore St.
Arlington VA 22201

Phone: 703-525-1955
Fax: 703-525-1957
Email: novacatclinic@gmail.com

Website: http://novacatclinic.com/
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Does Your Cat Have FIP?

Jan 9, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) is one of the most frustrating and sad diseases we see. Sad, because it usually affects young cats, typically 6 months to 2 years of age. There is no good vaccine against FIP – a vaccine does exist, but unfortunately, it is not very effective. The disease is sporadic and depends on genetic susceptibility, so not every cat that is exposed will develop FIP. Until very recently, testing has been challenging, because anything from a mild intestinal virus to FIP would show the same test results.

Yaz was a young neutered male, just over one year of age. He started off normally, then developed a fever. Yaz initially responded to antibiotics, but the response was only temporary. Some cats will develop fluid in the abdomen; others often have chronic intestinal disease (often diarrhea), poor appetite and don’t respond to any treatment. Sadly, Yaz was euthanized after we diagnosed FIP as the cause of his illness.

A recent development by a researcher at the Cornell Feline Health Center has developed a test that will help diagnose FIP more accurately. This will help screen for FIP and hopefully help eliminate this devastating disease.

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 Can’t We All Just Get Along

Jan 3, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior, Tips & Advice

All of us want our cats to get along with one another. If nothing happens, no one is fighting, we think that all is well. Since cats are solitary hunters, their first instinct is to avoid confrontation. Getting hurt might mean being unable to provide the next meal. So we need to look closer at the way in which our cats interact to better understand how to keep stress to a minimum. Unwanted social interaction is a source of tension and can precipitate unwanted behavior.

Recently, I was asked to help with a behavior problem in a household of 4 unrelated cats ranging in age from 4 to 14 years old. While she related her story, she commented that she knew all of her cats get along because they all eat together at the same time and on the kitchen counter. Whew, what a red flag! I asked her to take a picture of the cats the next morning as they ate breakfast. Smart phones take quick and easy video or pictures, a terrific source of good information.

She sent the pictures the next day. They showed all four cats at four separate food bowls on the same kitchen counter. One of them was eating but displayed a very tense body posture. One was staring at the one eating. The other two were looking away from one another with very alert forward ears and seemed to be trying to approach the food without making eye contact.

While this did not turn out to be the only source of stress in the household, it was surely one of them. Cats who are unrelated do not much care to be so close to one another under most circumstances. They tend to divide up the house into time and space. Two cats may be seen on the same couch but not at the same time. One may routinely walk through the house using two rooms but not a third where another cat typically resides.
Food is a primary need, the most important one and, therefore, the one that will make cats who prefer to keep some space between them to share close proximity. Turn taking and sharing are human behaviors and ones we willing undertake. Not so cats. Eating is a solitary activity for these independent hunters. My client’s cats were willing to override the social tension of being forced to share counter space in order to be fed. But their body language, the vocalization and pacing behavior she described indicated that this feeding ritual was very difficult to cope with.

I advised her to feed the cats in multiple locations around the house and some distance from the litterboxes. We also increased the number of water bowls, moving them away from the food to encourage drinking. These were placed at very accessible stations, even one in each of the two cat trees. The theory goes that cats won’t drink water as readily at a place where they eat. In the wild, a meal would have been an executed mouse whose body parts might contaminate nearby water. So it is thought that cats will more readily drink in places where food is not consumed.

We had more work to do to diffuse the tension among the cats in this family, but that day we made a good start.

Dr Elizabeth Colleran

Diplomate ABVP Specialty in Feline Practice

Dr Colleran attained both her Masters (in Animals and Public Policy) and Doctorate from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She opened Chico Hospital for Cats in 1998 and the Cat Hospital of Portland in 2003. In 2011, she became President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Dr Colleran is a member with: American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Association of Feline Practitionesr.

Chico Hospital for Cats
548 W East Ave,
Chico, CA

Phone: 530-892-2287‎

Website: http://chicocats.com/
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Cat Hospital of Portland
8065 SE 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97202

Phone: 503-235-7005
Fax: 503-234-0042

Website: http://portlandcats.net/
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Cats and the Holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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