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Tough Talk About Teeth – Part 2

Feb 10, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

If you missed it: Tough Talk About Teeth – Part 1

Remember Rufus?  He’s the young cat who needed radical dental surgery to correct very diseased teeth and gums.  When he came into my practice, he had the 30 teeth most cats have, but when he left later that evening, not a single one remained.

I was confident he’d do very well, but no one likes to see their cat lose so many teeth.  Even though our typical pampered house pets don’t need to hunt for their meals, teeth still serve a function and this guy’s days of chewing on hard treats or crunchies were going to be a thing of the past.

Does anyone remember getting your wisdom teeth out?  If you had to get them removed by your dentist, you probably don’t have happy memories of the aftercare.  Extractions hurt!  So one of the prime considerations with Rufus was how were we going to control any pain or discomfort during the healing process?  Would he want to eat?  We certainly didn’t want his gums to be so sensitive that even watered down canned food would be too uncomfortable to lap up.

I think most of us tend to put ourselves in our cat’s shoes and imagine how we would feel if we’d had something similar done to us, but that’s not necessarily the best way to approach a problem.  Rufus had no idea that he was supposed to have teeth.  Before his surgery, he was a cat with a serious mouth problem and it affected his life.  What he knew is his mouth really hurt, and eating and grooming wasn’t a pleasure and he could only manage to chew just the minimum amount of food he needed to survive.  Licking his fur meant his tongue was going to move against those inflamed gums, and he knew that the pain and discomfort stopped if he stopped licking.  So that plush and wonderful coat grew matted and dull.  This was his reality.  Bad teeth hurt!

What else happens with bad teeth and infected mouths?  We know in people that mouth inflammation can actually ratchet up the body’s overall level of inflammation, which can result in systemic disturbances, including an increased risk of coronary artery disease.  Could something similar happen in cats?  Perhaps changes might happen in other organs like the sensitive kidneys?  It certainly makes sense.  Could vigilant dental care help protect our cats against other inflammatory diseases?

When we extracted all those diseased teeth and turned off the source of inflammation for those hot and angry gums, we stopped his mouth pain and took away his never-ending discomfort.  It completely eliminated that awful situation.  Unfortunately, though, surgery always creates another source of pain that occurs when any place on the body is cut or injured.  The nice thing is we now have healthy tissue and healing will happen.  All we need to do is make sure to control any mouth-associated discomfort until his gums are completely healed and he is able to eat comfortably.

Rufus took all his pain medications and was a very good patient, and once his parents realized that he didn’t care that he didn’t have any teeth, and that he could and did eat normally, and that he purred exactly the same as he’d always done, well, they were happy too.

I saw Rufus recently for his follow-up visit, and one look at him convinced me that sometimes you really do need to be radical to make progress.  He’d put on that one pound he’d lost before his mouth surgery, and his lovely coat was back to its fluffy and glorious self.  His eyes were bright and shiny, and his whole attitude was more relaxed and friendly.

He was eating normally—and even sneaking a crunchie or two—and much more social and engaging than he’d been for the past year.  In fact, the change was so remarkable that his parents thought that Rufus hadn’t been right for much longer than we’d suspected, and they said they were kicking themselves for not doing the dental work the first time it had been suggested.  It struck them as funny in a way because nothing he had done at home when his mouth was so diseased was obviously indicative of a problem—it was only when the problem was removed that the return of his normal, happy self showed us what an impact discomfort can have on the personality.

This time when I opened his mouth to peek inside, all I saw was pink healthy tissue without a sign of any inflammation.  His breath was fresh and sweet.  And our boy was purring so loudly that the biggest challenge was being able to hear his heart over the noise!

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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Lost Cat Behavior

Jan 31, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

We recently adopted a young adult cat, Andy, for our seven year cat, Bodaishin. Bo had thoroughly enjoyed the two cats who came with our house sitter for two weeks and we realized he could use the company. Andy was still nervous with us as Thanksgiving approached but seemed to be settling down.

For Thanksgiving there would be nine for dinner with the centerpiece an outdoor old fashioned bread oven that served as our oven and warm place for conversation. People were in and out all day. At some point, Andy, who is dark chocolate brown disappeared. He had never been outdoors.

As nervous as he was, we thought he might be hiding in the house. After searching every cupboard and inch of the house we realized he had gotten outside. For the next day we scoured the property and surrounding area. Nothing.

We assumed he was terrified and would not approach us for awhile. Naturally, he was microchipped, but someone would have to find him first. In our attached garage, we set his cat tree, a heated bed he liked, his litter box, food and water with a light on a timer set for dusk. The door to the outdoors was propped open.

Twice a day, one of us drove 30 miles from the hospital to our home to check for “Andy sign”. The litter box was used early on and some food gone, but he was nowhere to be found. Finally, after two days, he was in the garage and in his bed.  The search over, I shut the door to the outside, opened the door to the house. With plenty of food and water for the rest of the day, I quietly drove away. Later that day, he was in the house and in one of his many beds.

By providing a safe familiar environment with all the necessary amenities, Andy calmed down enough to return to the things he knew better than the strange environment that he had encountered outdoors. His fear of this wild place in which he landed likely caused him to hide and stay quiet for the time, early on, when we searched for him. Cats respond to threats by fleeing first and fighting last. His instinct was to flee and hide. We had to wait long enough for him to feel safe enough to explore his way home.

By understanding our mistakes in allowing this to happen we have made some changes to our behavior around doors. We also needed to understand how a cat experiences an abrupt change in circumstances and how he would react. By providing the time for him to recover and the resources he knew well, we  made it possible for him to come home.

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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Should I Go? Or, Should I stay?

Jan 25, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Winter is in full swing. It is the time to think about escape. Or for those cat lovers who live in warmer climes, a change of scenery to refresh and reenergize, often beckons.  As travel plans are being made, one important question often is: would our feline friend be better with their veterinarian, at home, in a boarding kennel, or traveling with us?

Just as no two cats are alike, no option is the right one for every cat.  Some general considerations are: how long will you  be gone, how old is your cat, and is yours a single or multiple cat household?  Then there are individual traits to consider.  How does your cat handle visitors?  Is there a secretive or elusive eater in the family?  If left at home would anyone be able to monitor this cat’s food intake?  How well does your cat travel?

The most common situation is where the cat must stay at home with a cat sitter, in a boarding facility or at a veterinary hospital.  For some of our felines, the question is easy.  Cats with medical needs, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or frail health, should stay with your veterinarian so they will be monitored by skilled professionals.  After a cat has had a day or two to adapt to the environment, boarding time offers a good opportunity to have planned lab tests performed, such as a blood glucose or blood pressure measurement.  It is  frequently the easiest time to get a urine sample, if your doctor has requested one.

When young cats ( under 7-9 mos of age) are home alone, they can  get into trouble due to pent up energy with no one  home to entertain them.  Cords and knickknacks become toys with their attendant problems.  These cats are  best left in someone else’s care, such as a boarding facility.

For adult healthy cats ( 9 mos to 15 years), with proper planning, staying at home may be the best solution.  There are several strategies for making a cat’s time at  home alone successful.  Someone should visit your cat at least daily, and preferably twice daily to feed and clean  if your trip is more than two or three days.  Additional litter boxes should be provided –  at least one more than the normal number.  Caretakers may not be as fastidious as you are.  Their cycle of visits may not match your cat’s litter box usage pattern.  An extra litter box, or even two, will decrease the likelihood of accidents occurring.  Leave clear feeding instructions describing amounts to be fed with exact measurements, as opposed to rough guidelines ( e.g. one half cup not the more inexact handful).  Leave unwashed articles of your clothing for the cat to sleep on.  Put them in the cat’s usual sleeping places.  Being able to smell you will be reassuring to your cat.  If you are planning an extended time away, make arrangements for a sitter to spend an hour or so daily in your home to interact with your cat – especially if your cat is a social cat who likes company and play time.  A  tape recording of your voice played periodically may be comforting if your cat is particularly attached to you, or is shy around strangers.  If you are hiring a cat sitter, please check their references and schedule a visit to introduce the sitter to your cat to make sure you approve of the observed interaction.  If these arrangements are difficult or impossible, then your cat would most likely be best served by staying at at boarding facility.  Use  logic for choosing a boarding facility similar to that which you would have used to choose a cat sitter.  Ask your friends or your veterinarian for recommendations.  Be sure to visit and observe the facility ahead of time.

Sometimes  the best choice is for your cat to travel with you.  No matter how you are traveling, make sure your cat has some form of permanent identification to greatly increase the likelihood of you and your cat being reunited if your cat should escape.  Microchipping is the ideal method of identification.  Speak to your veterinarian about the quick and easy procedure.  As was mentioned above, an unwashed article of your clothing placed in the carrier will offer comfort.  A towel or blanket sprayed with Feliway, a calming pheromone, placed in the carrier one hour before use with your kitty placed  in the carrier 20 minutes before leaving helps to decrease travel anxiety.  Minimize motion sickness by not feeding your cat the day of the trip.  This will also decrease the probability of your cat urinating or defecating in the carrier while traveling. When you arrive at your destination, take your cat in the carrier into the room you’ll be staying in.  Get food, water, and a litter box ready, then let him out.  Place the carrier on the floor with the door open.  Your carrier can act be a place of security during your visit.  Generally speaking it is best to keep your cat in your room for the duration of your stay.  While it may seem like a small space, remember it is much larger than a boarding cage and your cat can easily familiarize himself with the new surroundings.

If you are traveling by air, first contact the individual airline to see what it requires to allow your cat to fly.   Ideally your cat will fly in the cabin with you.   Call the airline early to make the reservation.  Most airlines limit the number of pets that can fly in the cabin.  Your cat should wear a harness attached to a leash in the carrier. Unless the rule has been changed, cats are required to be out of their carrier during screening and a frightened cat can be difficult to restrain in your arms.  Many airlines will require a health certificate within a specific number of days prior to departure.  Most airlines require proof of  a current rabies vaccination.

If you are traveling by car, your cat should travel in a carrier and be secured in that carrier any time you exit or enter the vehicle.  If your trip is more than four hours, stop and offer water periodically and have a disposable litter box available.

There is no exact answer to the question: what is best for your cat when you travel? You know best the physical and emotional requirements of your feline family member.  Your veterinarian will be happy to consult with you about any specific questions

or concerns you might have.  Choose the option that will allow you to enjoy your vacation knowing that you have done your best to make sure your cat is healthy, happy, and safe.

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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10 Things Your Cat Wants You to Know

Jan 20, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

  1. I like fleece more than any other bedding material. And there is research to prove that cats prefer fleece over towels and other bedding material.
  2. Even if I hate the other cats in our home, I usually won’t get into a cat fight with them. Instead I will try to avoid them, even if it means that I need to pee on the carpet instead of passing them to get to the litter box. That’s because I need to keep myself protected and healthy just as my wild ancestors did because I am a great hunter.
  3. If I pee on your carpet, clothes, or bed, please, please, please don’t get rid of me at least until you have taken me to the vet to make sure I am not sick. If I am not sick, please talk to a vet who knows a lot about cat behavior or a behaviorist about what kind of litter and litter boxes I want, and how to give me space away from that other cat you love and I hate, or whatever else is upsetting me.
  4. If I am like most cats, I get bored and pudgy (58% of cats in the US are overweight or obese!) if I don’t work for my food. I am a great hunter, and I like to chase my kibbles, find hidden kibbles, and eat canned food. You might think canned food is like a treat, but it really is closer to what my wild ancestors ate (I am trying not to gross you out, but that is mice), and is much lower in calories because it is 70-80% water. I may act like I want to eat all the time, but that is because in the wild, I spent most of my time hunting and a much smaller time eating. If you take my hunting away – chasing food, finding it in hidden places, frequent and small meals a day – I eat more, and I may beg for more, but really I want more hunt, which can also be called play. Please don’t make me pudgy – you may think I look cute, but it makes me sluggish, and I don’t want to be diabetic. There has been a 16% increase in diabetes in cats between 2006 and 2010 because we have become so pudgy. Cat vets – and many others – know about safe weight loss (losing weight quickly can make cats so sick that it can be deadly). Please help me!
  5. If I lick to groom another cat or they lick me, or if we cuddle or sleep together, we are bonded and like each other. However, even best buds nead their space, and approximately 50% of the time, I like to be alone. And I often don’t want to sleep with my buddy in the hot summer – yuck! One fur coat is enough!
  6. I absolutely hate it when you say I am old! There are people who are healthy in mind and body into the 90s and 100s even! If I am slowing down, I am in pain from arthritis or something else, or I am sick. Please take me to the vet no matter how hard I resist. And if they can’t help, find a vet that can!
  7. My favorite toy is a USED hair ‘scrunchy’ or pony tail holder. Don’t worry if you are a guy, bald, or with very short hair. Just rub it on your head and get your scent on it and voila – it is a used scrunchy! Please note that if I like to eat things other than food that the scrunchy should be tied onto a string and only used when you help me play with it.
  8. I don’t cough up hairballs on a routine basis – see Why does my Cat Vomit? and Hairballs. It may happen once a month or two (don’t laugh, my hairless Sphynx friends!), but more frequently than that and there is something wrong. If it is right after eating, I eat too fast, and all you need to do is spread my food out on a flat plate so that I don’t mow it down too fast. But if I continue or it isn’t related to that, it’s likely that I have a health problem, and need a vet to help.
  9. As a cat, I am supposed to appear healthy to protect myself from dangers, including bigger hunters than me. So even though I act like I don’t want to go to the vet, it is because I hate change – unless I instigate it! – and I am scared (and I may act tough because I don’t want anyone else to know it!). I want to be with you forever or at least as long as possible and always be comfortable and happy, so please take me to the vet to learn how to prevent the health problems that I don’t need to have including those awful bugs and worms, and to control health problems that I may get, and make sure I am never in pain. I am purrfect and don’t deserve to ever be in pain.
  10. I love you when you do what I love, and because you are awesome!

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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Tough Talk About Teeth

Jan 17, 2013 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Can you imagine what your mouth would look like if you went 35 or so years without brushing your teeth?  I suspect you wouldn’t be having a second career as the “kissing bandit,” and you’d probably also be in the market for some good denture adhesive.  “Tuna breath” isn’t necessarily a term of endearment!

Most of us don’t feel right if we haven’t brushed our teeth at least once a day…but what if we’re a cat without any access to a tooth brush, floss and toothpaste? What would that feel like?

If your cat has gone more than 6 years without a cleaning, that’s the human equivalent of not brushing for 35 years.  Yuck!

I saw an absolutely beautiful cat named Rufus last year, and just like his name implies he had a very fluffy and foxlike orange coat, which he clearly fastidiously groomed and kept in tip-top shape.  He was in for a regular check up, and during his physical exam, I noticed that he had some inflammation along the gum line and a little tartar and plaque build up.  His parents and I talked about getting him in for a dental cleaning procedure, and at age 4 he was actually a little older than the typical age when we start to do cleanings.  Anyway, life got in the way for Rufus and his owners, and that cleaning appointment got rescheduled, and rescheduled again, and then finally forgotten.

Fast forward to last month, and beautiful Rufus was in for his annual exam.  He’d lost about a pound, which to put into perspective is about 10 pounds or so for us, and his previously shiny and gorgeous coat was looking a little ragged and matted.  Rufus also was accompanied by a pronounced and fairly nauseating odor, which was centered around his mouth.

Sweet Rufus cried when I opened his mouth to check things out, and what I saw was a real testimonial to the power of time.  His gums were red and angry, and had receded from his teeth to such an extent that the roots were visible.  The tartar and plaque I’d noticed last year had significantly worsened, and there were visible cavities surrounded by swollen gums.  Most ominously, the back of his throat was fiery red and obviously sensitive.  His folks reported that Rufus was hesitant chewing food and swallowing seemed an effort.  In fact, they thought he was spending much less time grooming himself than he usually did, and mouth pain seemed the likely culprit.  All in all, he had changed from a vibrant and happy youngster into a hesitant, stand-offish individual.

Could this be fixed?  Clearly, we needed to try something to see if we could stop Rufus’s deterioration and distress.  First step was scheduling Rufus for an in-depth evaluation of his mouth while he was under anesthesia—this hurt way to much to even consider doing the probing while he was conscious!  Second step was using medicines to manage his pain and discomfort until we could fully address his problems during his dental procedure.  This time there was no hesitation—Rufus got his appointment secured—stat!

The morning of his oral surgery, Rufus was anesthetized and bundled up into a warming blanket as a breathing tube was eased down into his throat.  What I saw when I slid my dental probe into the junction between his teeth and his gum line was shocking.  Basically, all the necessary attachments between the tooth roots and the bone were missing.  X-rays confirmed that the resulting bone loss was so severe that it could not be reversed. These teeth could not be saved.  His gums were so inflamed and irritated that even a gentle touch was enough to create bleeding, and there were several pockets of active infection.  No wonder our poor boy didn’t want to eat!

Cats have 30 teeth, 12 of which are those tiny teeth in between the big fangs.  This is just a few more than we humans have.  Most of us don’t want to lose our teeth and false teeth are only a last resort when all else fails.  So even thinking about removing most of Rufus’s teeth just didn’t sit well with his parents.  But did we have options?

I know cats feel better and are happier when their mouths don’t hurt them.  But what I saw when I probed Rufus’s teeth meant we had a situation where our only solution was radical.  What I was proposing was the extraction of every single one of his 30 teeth.  Was this too extreme?  Could he eat?  Would he look funny?

Reluctantly, Rufus’s parents gave the OK and we began the long process of gently and thoroughly removing every single tooth he had, down to the last root tip. We also surgically biopsied a small piece of tissue at the center of the worst area of inflammation, to try and make sure that the swelling and redness wasn’t caused by anything potentially aggressive, such as a cancer.  This kind of dental surgery takes time, and my staff made sure Rufus was kept warm and hydrated, and that his pain medications never ran out.

Hours later, Rufus was in the recovery stage of the procedure, and wrapped in enough warm towels to make any self-respecting cat happy!  So far, so good.  But what could we expect in the days and weeks to come?

Continue to Tough Talk About Teeth – Part 2

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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Home Monitoring of Diabetic Cats

Jan 7, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder inducing loss of regulation of blood glucose (blood sugar). It is caused by decreased insulin production in the pancreas or decreased response/sensitivity to insulin. In cats, decreased sensitivity to insulin is the more common cause of diabetes. As with humans, obesity is a major risk factor for the onset of diabetes in cats.

The rising incidence of feline obesity over the last 20 years has led to an increased incidence of diabetes mellitus in cats. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reported in 2009 that 58% of cats were overweight or obese. Studies show that in 1970 the incidence of diabetes was approximately eight cases per 10,000 cats, increasing to 124/10,000 in 1999, or over 1 in 100 cats. Ad lib (free) feeding of high calorie, highly palatable diets to cats with decreasing exercise demands is largely responsible.

Close to 90% of new diabetics can obtain remission of their disease with insulin therapy, diet and weight control, along with addressing any disease processes that decrease the body’s sensitivity to insulin such as dental disease, pancreatitis, or other infectious and inflammatory diseases. However, many cats require insulin therapy for life and there are risks of serious complications associated with having blood glucose that is either too high or too low.

Home monitoring of the blood glucose by the owner is an effective means to treat the diabetes while preventing hypoglycemia (too low blood glucose). This requires a portable blood glucose monitor and glucose test strips. A tiny drop of blood is collected from the inside of the ear or a paw pad and the time of the day, as well as the number of times per day for testing will depend on how well regulated the cat is. This will be discussed and recommended by your veterinarian and may change during times of stress or illness.

Most cats are very tolerant to the small lancet that is used to collect the blood sample and, though you may be intimidated initially, most owners indicate that once perfected testing of blood glucose and administration of insulin is much easier than administering oral medications.

Test results at home tend to be more accurate because of decreased stress in the home environment and the ability to test on multiple days while avoiding lengthy trips to the veterinary hospital. This in turn decreases the costs associated with managing a diabetic cat.

Here is a technique for collection (it may take a little while to download); however, your veterinarian will typically schedule appointments to instruct you on the use of your home monitoring system.

Adjustments may need to be made in testing and insulin dosing and visits to the veterinarian and consultations with your veterinarian will be required at times. However, by learning to monitor at home you can improve the health and welfare of your cat.

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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On the Third Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Dec 27, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Three Family Parties: How to Help your Cat Avoid the Emergency Room this Holiday (pt. 3)

If you missed out on the previous parts:

Depending on how you feel about your family, you may just want to crawl under the bed with your terrified cat when the time comes for holiday parties and family get-togethers. Depending on your cat, these parties can be fun or they can be extremely traumatic. Some cats hide for days after a party.

If you are planning a boisterous holiday party with lots of guests, you might want to consider boarding your cat during the holiday. Otherwise, to help a shy cat cope, you can prepare a sanctuary in advance – a bed, food, water and litter – in a low-traffic area, a closet or the basement where sounds will be more muffled, and plan to keep them in their sanctuary for the duration of the party. Feline pheromone spray or a diffuser and items with your kitty’s own smell on them will help create a calming scent. Show your cat this area before the big day so she will know it’s her safe place. Cats that are frightened because of large numbers of people might dash for the door, or curious cats may slip outside along with an unwary visitor. This is an excellent reason why even indoor cats benefit from being microchipped. It is also a good idea to request that family members keep their own pets at home. Cats are creatures of habit, and the holidays are stressful enough without having an interloper to deal with. In addition, the last thing that you want to be doing just before Christmas dinner is rushing your cat to the ER with a bite wound if the animals decide that they don’t want to play nicely anymore.

Other concerns about holiday parties and visitors include inappropriate elimination. Some cats will urinate or defecate outside the box when they are overly stressed or anxious – another reason to consider isolating your cat in its sanctuary or planning to board her.

If you have specific concerns, antianxiety drug therapy could be discussed with your veterinarian. There are many calming medications available, ranging from human anti-anxiety drugs to herbal and homeopathic supplements, so you and your veterinarian can discuss which option would be most effective for your cat.

If you will be traveling throughout the holidays and your cat is not going with you, the most ideal option for pet care is to have a non-traveling family member stay in the home with the cat. This allows the cat the comfort of a familiar face and surroundings to provide the least interruption of his or her normal routine. A qualified pet sitter is the next best choice – someone who is trained to recognize signs of illness. Ideally, the sitter would stay in your home with the cat, or visit a minimum of twice daily for 30 minutes or more.  The third option would be for cat owners to board their pets at a reputable feline-only boarding facility. There are a lot of holiday hazards that a cat can get into at this time of year, so cats should not be left alone unattended. Cats with medical problems and daily medications should not be without their medications at this time of high stress.

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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On the Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Dec 15, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

… Two Toxic Plants: Helping your Cat Avoid the Emergency Room this Holiday (pt. 2)

If you missed out on the previous part:

Many people decorate their homes with festive holiday plants that are gorgeous to look at, but may be deadly if eaten. In addition, many are busy baking and cooking in preparation of big family meals together. Since we’re so busy, sometimes we may not notice if our mischievous cat is trying to snack on something she shouldn’t.

Here are some of the top holiday items that cats love to eat (but shouldn’t!):

Plants

First of all, it is important to note that even non-toxic plants can cause coughing, choking, stomach upset or mild vomiting. Sometimes a leaf can even become lodged in a nostril or scratch or irritate an eye. If your cat eats a plant and needs to seek medical attention, it is always a good idea to bring the plant that was eaten with you to the vet – that way if you are uncertain of the species, your vet may be able to identify it and determine the treatment needed. Also, bringing the plant helps to evaluate exactly how much and what part of the plant was eaten. A tiny bite of a certain plant leaf may be safe, while the berry or flower of the same plant is lethal.

Holiday plants vary in their toxicity. Lilies (all of the Lilium family and Hemerocalis species), amaryllis bulbs and mistletoe are the most dangerous. If you or anyone in your household suspects that your cat may have ingested any part of a lily, no matter how small, please seek immediate veterinary attention. Hesitation may mean the difference between life and death for your cat! If more than 6 hours pass between lily ingestion and treatment, your cat’s chance of recovery decreases from fairly good to guarded-to-poor, and you can expect some long-term kidney damage.

There are several species of mistletoe including Phoradendum and Viscum – some of which are highly toxic and some of which are less so. Any type of mistletoe ingestion should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian.

Holly (Ilex spp.) – certain species contain the methylzanthine Theobromine (also theophylline which is used as a respiratory aid, and caffeine – you know what that does! J) in all parts, but concentrated in the leaves. Theobromine is the toxic substance that is also found in chocolate. Leaves can cause cuts or irritation in the mouth and esophagus. The berries, which contain glucosidic saponins, are mildly toxic to humans in small quantities, but can cause toxicity to varying degrees in pets. It is best to contact a veterinarian if your pet has ingested holly – more about Holly toxicity.

Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) is a decorative species of nightshade with bright red berries that are poisonous.
Poinsettias (Euphorbia) have gotten a bad rap as an extremely poisonous plant due to an urban legend dating back to 1919 – reference for poinsettia myth. They do cause some intestinal upset, but rarely cause death. Pine needles and Christmas cactus usually cause irritation and intestinal upset but are less toxic. The most common signs of plant toxicity are: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and excessive salivation (drooling).

If you have a live tree, Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers or preservatives and stagnant tree water can breed bacteria, but ingestion of a small amount of water does not usually cause severe issues. Covering the water with chicken wire or other mesh allows you to refresh your tree, but prevents your cat from drinking the water. Pine sap is not toxic but is sticky and hard to remove. Cats may lick excessively or pull at their fur if sap becomes adhered to their fur. Vegetable oil works better than shampoo when removing sap from your cat’s fur.

Exposure to plants in the Lily family is far and away the most serious holiday threat. I have seen more deaths in cats due to this, than all the other toxic plants combined.

Some non-toxic winter plants that you can safely place in your home include: Christmas palm (Veitchia merrillii), Christmas orchid (Cattleya trianaei), Christmas dagger fern (Polystichym spp), and Mistletoe cactus (Thipsalis cassutha).

Foods

All members of the genus Allium (onion, garlic, leek, chives, shallots, and scallions) can be poisonous to both dogs and cats. Toxicity can cause damage to the red blood cells (RBC), resulting in Heinz body anemia. In particular, cats are 2 to 3 times more susceptible to RBC damage from these components than other species. While specific studies have not been done with garlic as to the safe levels of ingestion, acute onion toxicosis occurs in animals that eat more than 0.5% of their body weight at one time (less than 2 Tbsp. for a 10lb. cat). However, smaller doses given regularly over a period of time will cause the same problem.

Drinks with milk or cream such as alcoholic eggnog are a concern both because most cats are lactose intolerant and because cats are very sensitive to alcohol due to their small size. Even small amounts of alcohol can be fatal.

Chocolate ingestion can be serious, leading to seizures, if a large quantity is ingested. Chocolate toxicity varies by type of chocolate ingested – baker’s chocolate contains a higher concentration of Theobromine than white chocolate. Any ingestion of chocolate should warrant a call to your veterinarian, however. This is usually less of an issue for cats than dogs since they don’t seem to want to eat pure chocolate, but it should still be kept out of reach.

You should refrain from giving bones to your cats. Unlike dogs, cats do not have the instinct to gnaw on bones – and even dogs can damage or prematurely wear down their teeth with too much bone-chewing. Small bones can cause choking or bowel obstructions. Ingestion of broken bones can cause perforations of the intestinal tract, so if you offer turkey meat, make sure it is boneless.

In addition, the herbs and spices that the turkey or chicken is cooked with can be a problem. Sage is an herb that cats are extremely sensitive to, and can cause an upset stomach or depression of the nervous system. Also, as above, onions and other members of that family can cause anemia. If you want to offer your cat turkey, cook up some unseasoned bits on the side, rather than sharing from the family’s bird. It is doubtful that cats can taste the spices the same way humans can, anyway.

Medications

Medications are not something that people think about as a holiday hazard, but during this chaotic time, when many guests may be staying in your home, be vigilant about any medications that may spill, especially as family members that may be coming to stay may bring in medications that aren’t usually in your house. Cats lack some liver enzymes and metabolize many medications poorly; one Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be fatal to a cat. If your cat is on medications for her own health issues, ingesting additional human medications may interact with those she has already taken with devastating results. If you think your cat has ingested someone’s medication, please call a veterinarian right away. Have the pill vial handy while you are on the phone and bring it with you to your appointment so that you can give all the important information to the doctor about what kind of medication it was, the dose and an estimate of how many pills were in the bottle. Make sure that you are also aware of all the medications your cat normally takes and when the most recent dose was given. If your cat has ingested someone else’s medication and is due for a dose of their own medications, DO NOT give the normal medications until you have spoken with your veterinarian.

Continue to Part 3: On the Third Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

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

Directions:
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Tissue and Fluid Samples: Why Are They Useful in Diagnosing Diseases?

Dec 13, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Sampling of tissue and subsequent microscopic evaluation of tissue is described as collecting and interpreting a biopsy.  The preparation and evaluation of tissue is performed by a board certified pathologist.  Biopsies are used to evaluate masses and tumors, either inside the body, mouth or ears or on the external surface of the body (dermal or mammary tumors).  Biopsy samples can also be collected from tissue that is red or hairless or ulcerated as a means of differentiating cancer (neoplasia) from inflammatory, traumatized or infected tissue.

Analysis of fluid or a tissue sample is a diagnostic tool used in conjunction with blood and urine tests and imaging (radiographs, ultrasound, CT Scan or MRI) to narrow down a list of potential diseases in a cat.  Microscopic analysis of cells in fluid is referred to as cytology. Microscopic analysis of tissue (biopsy) is referred to as histopathology.  Samples of fluid are “aspirated” with a needle and tissue can be sampled with a small needle and syringe or by an incision that allows tissue to be collected. Fine needle samples of tissue can be collected with direct visualization if accessible to the eye or via one of the imaging systems mentioned above. When a tumor is removed, the entire mass can be submitted to the pathologist to ensure that all tumor cells were removed.  This is referred to as “checking margins” or making sure that “clean margins” are achieved , i.e. all of the cancer was removed.

Fluid samples are collected via a needle and syringe and often used to differentiate causes of abnormal free fluid accumulation in either the chest or abdomen of a cat.  Protein levels, bacterial isolation and microscopic evaluation of cell types are the usual tests done on fluid.  Some types of cancer will “shed” (exfoliate) cells into fluid and the exact cancer can be identified by microscopic evaluation of those cells. Lymphoma, the most common cancer in cats, usually exfoliates in the chest fluid if there is a lymphoma tumor in front of the heart. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal viral (corona virus) disease that can cause abnormal fluid to accumulate in the chest or abdomen or both. FIP fluid has a characteristic yellow color, often contains a white blood cell type called macrophages and has high protein levels.  Congestive heart failure or non-exfoliating cancers like adenocarcinoma, will cause a clear watery fluid to collect in either the abdomen or chest that is free of cells.  Bacterial infection in the chest or abdomen (peritonitis) contains high levels of white blood cells (neutrophils or pus) called neutrophils and the causative bacteria can often be directly visualized inside the neutrophils or macrophages or may be grown on an agar plate (cultured) from the pus. Fluid extracted from around the brain or spinal cord  (cerebrospinal fluid) can be evaluated for inflammatory or cancer cells.

 

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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Why Does my Cat Vomit?

Dec 9, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Cats are amazing, not just because of all the warm and fuzzy stuff they bring us, like their kisses and purrs, but because they have an incredible ability to hide signs of disease.  It breaks my heart when a loving, concerned owner brings me in a cat that doesn’t look very well and the owner’s response to the questions I ask tell me that this cat has had issues for a lot longer than it should.  Most often the owner thought some of the behavior was normal.  One of those behaviors is when cats vomit.

It is widely accepted that cats can vomit when they are very healthy.  Most often, cat owners associate vomiting with the peaceful grooming most cats love to do.  Yes, it is true that cats can bring up hairballs when they are grooming more than they usually do and they ingest a lot of fur, but cats are meant to groom, so their gastrointestinal tract was designed to handle most of the fur they swallow.  I like to think of the cats’ GI tract as having great housekeeping capabilities.  So, when I find that a cat is vomiting a lot, I am not likely to accept it as normal.  I am not saying that every time a cat vomits there is something very wrong, but I think a cat that vomits regularly, likely needs some help.

Simple causes of vomiting can be the way a cat eats – some almost inhale food!  Many times, moving a cat from canned food to dry food will help since it slows some cats down, or the other way around.  I also ask owners to use bowls like the Brake-Fast bowls, or have owners put a small ball in the cat’s dish which usually get the cat to eat slower.  Cats can also develop sensitivities to a cat food’s ingredients, so trying different foods might be all that is needed to stop a cat from vomiting.  Keep track of how often your cat brings up food or fluid and whether it vomits just after eating (referred to as regurgitation) or whether it can happen hours after eating.  If you make changes in the way you feed and try different diets but vomiting continues, it is time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

The cause of vomiting that I think is most often missed by owners because their cats seem perfectly fine despite vomiting regularly, is a condition called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  IBD is a very complicated condition, because the level of inflammation in the cat’s GI tract that one cat has can be very different than the level of inflammation another cat has.  Along with the difference in the severity of inflammation is the fact that our GI tract and cats’ GI tracts have architectures that are very specific.  The GI tract has an important job, so changes in the architecture due to smoldering inflammation that eventually alters the main function of the GI tract, which is to absorb nutrients, can lead to devastating consequences that can also involve other important organs. When inflammation occurs, the changes are not always the same, so the treatment can vary. This means that your veterinarian is likely to recommend diagnostic tests that will figure out what the best way is to treat your cat.

So, if your cat vomits regularly or a friend tells you their cat vomits regularly, remember that it really isn’t normal for a cat to vomit often.  I think that cat needs to see a veterinarian as soon as possible!

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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