Tagged with " cancer"

End of Life and Quality of Life

Jul 7, 2013 by     11 Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

I would like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and moral support for Cosmo. If you would like to read more about him please click here for part one and here for part two.

He just turned 12 years old last week and has started acting very needy.  He has been screaming for attention at all hours of the day.  This is a little different than his normal behavior.  I petted him under the chin and noticed that he had small bumps that were not there a week ago.  His lymph node on the right shoulder is now enlarged.

I am planning on taking samples to prove that it is the return of the cancer.  I feel certain that is.

I am now at the crossroads of how do I proceed.  This is obviously a very aggressive cancer since it returned only 3 months after treatment.

Do I take him back for more surgery and treatment?  That option does not make sense since he has been through so much by this time and it will last less time than the previous.

Do I treat him as “hospice”?  I give him pain medication waiting until he stops eating and his quality of life is terrible.

I do not want him to reach the point of terrible quality of life.  I will need to make my decision of the correct time.  I have always told people that they will know the time.  I wish not to be selfish and keep him alive for my sake or for that of others.  This is a family decision.

He has been such a good friend and want to be respectful and say good bye before he is suffering.

Many thanks for everyone’s support and kindness.

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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Overgrooming – or, My Cat is Licking Itself Bald!

May 9, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Almost every day I examine a cat that has areas of hair loss. Sometimes people think that their cat’s hair is falling out. Sometimes people see the cat licking itself or find clumps of hair on the floor. What causes hair loss in cats?

The most common cause is allergies. Cat allergies usually cause itchy skin. Allergic cats can also sneeze or wheeze or have ear infections or diarrhea as well. Cats lick at their itchy skin and because of their raspy tongues are able to break off their fur. This leaves a little stubble on the skin, and often the skin itself is a little pinker than normal. Some cats are “closet lickers” and only overgroom when no one is around.

What can cats be allergic to? The same types of things that bother us – pollens, dust mites, and foods. In particular, cats react to flea bites. When fleas bite, they inject their saliva to keep the blood from clotting. The cat becomes allergic to the saliva and just one bite can make the cat itch to the point of licking or plucking their fur. Many times we can’t even find the fleas because the cat licks so much it swallows the flea (which can transmit tapeworms, another topic).

What do we do to treat allergies in cats? Ideally we allergy test and use desensitizing injections or oral drops. Sometimes we use antihistamines, fatty acid supplements, or hypoallergenic foods. We will almost always use a broad spectrum flea and mite product as well. In severe cases, we will need to use injectable or oral steroids. We now have another medication called cyclosporine, which can also help control itching and overgrooming with fewer potential side effects. There are some anti-anxiety medications that reduce itching as well. In years past we used to think that stress caused overgrooming, but now we know that most of the time the stress is aggravating the allergic disease and making the overgrooming worse.

Other things that can cause hair loss in cats are Demodex mites, fungal infections, and occasionally hormonal problems or cancers. So if your cat’s coat has lost its normal luster or has patches of hair loss it is time for your cat to see your veterinarian!

Dr Tammy Sadek

Dr Tammy Sadek is board certified in Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr Sadek graduated at the top of her veterinary class at the University Of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced feline medicine and surgery for over 25 years. Dr Sadek is the owner and founder of two cat hospitals in the Grand Rapids, MI area, the Kentwood Cat Clinic and the Cat Clinic North.

In addition to her cat hospitals, Dr Sadek hosts a website www.litterboxguru.com dedicated to helping cat owners prevent and correct litter box issues along with other behavioral issues with their pets.

Dr Sadek is the author of several chapters in the book Feline Internal Medicine Secrets. Her professional interests include senior cat care, internal medicine, feline behavior, and dermatology.

Dr Sadek is currently owned by 5 cats. In addition to caring for all her feline friends, Dr Sadek enjoys traveling, jewelry making, reading fantasy and science fiction, and gardening. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two soon to fledge children.

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A Quick Cosmo Update

Apr 5, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

If you missed it read about Cosmo’s Big Adventure

Prior to starting radiation he had to have CT scan to determine the plan where he would receive his radiation therapy.  So, no food after midnight since he would have anesthesia.  Always harder than it sounds with 3 cats.

We were up early and Cosmo was then placed in the carrier.  He has always been good about this and I grateful that we started early in life.  The other 2 are then easily fed. I get a call that all went well.  The CT is sent to Calgary for the radiologist to make the plan. A week later we get a call and they are ready to start at any time.

So now it begins., 18 treatments in total.  18 anesthesias.  Sounds overwhelming.  My main issue would be getting him to the facility in the morning and then getting him in the evening.  With my schedule I do not usually leave until 8 in the evening.  Fortunately, the center can keep him overnight.  I am so grateful since we only have about 2 awake hours together. We will start on a Wednesday and finish on a Friday 2 weeks later.

They do not do treatments on the weekend so on Friday I go get him.  I was told to be prepared that the radiation could burn his neck and he might not be able to eat.  Cosmo is one of those cats that lives to eat.  If he did get burned, he might need a feeding tube.  This would have to be tube directly into his stomach and not his neck due to the location of the treatment.

I get him and am prepared for the worst. Happily I had worried needlessly.  He gets home and goes straight for the food bowl. Same old Cosmo especially after he goes and bugs his sister.  Sunday night it will start all over again.  No food after midnight.

Fortunately the next 2 weeks go very well with no issues.  On his last night, he was given a scarf that he graduated from radiation therapy.  I liked the scarf better than he did, but was so grateful for all the good care he received.

Towards the end of treatment, I spoke with his oncologist.  I learned that cats have far fewer issues with radiation than humans.  I also learned that dogs have much harder time than humans.  We also discussed since we had come this far we might want to consider chemotherapy for Cosmo also.  This would be the last step and would be done 3 weeks apart.  The first one would happen during the last week of treatment.  I decide to go ahead given that we had come this far.  He needed blood work to be sure that he had enough white blood cells.

I will keep you posted on how he handles this part of his adventure.  He seems to be enjoying himself and loves seeing people at the clinic.  At this moment, I am happy with my decision since Cosmo seems to be very happy with it.

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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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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Cats and Cigarettes – A Lethal Combination

Jun 16, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

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

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

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

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

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

Nicotine levels in various products include:

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

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

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

Just Quit – Your cat will thank you!


Photo by Tony Stone & Adeline Rapon

Dr Diana Lafer

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

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

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

Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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The Decision to Euthanize: When is it Time?

Oct 14, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

This actual scenario played out in my practice today….Chaka, a once stunning Balinese girl was waiting for an exam and blood tests when I arrived at the clinic this morning. Today Chaka looked like a skeleton with matted hair. Her eyes appeared sunken from dehydration and she struggled to breathe.   Her Dad, Steve, has always been receptive to all the medical recommendations I’ve made over the years.  Sweet Chaka has had more than her share of medical problems, many of which were chronic and required ongoing treatment.

Steve was devoted to her nursing care and follow up visits. Her list of maladies included inflammatory bowel disease that years later transformed into lymphoma (cancer),  fatty liver disease treated with a feeding tube, hyperthyroidism and a life-threatening adverse reaction to the drug used to treat the hyperthyroidism. Her last medical crisis happened a year and a half ago. After a blood transfusion and intensive care, we  started chemotherapy and much to our amazement, Chaka responded favorably and rallied once again! Steve and Chaka enjoyed another long stretch of blissful feline-human camaraderie.

Today I discovered a heart murmur and a chest full of fluid on x-rays…I quickly called Steve to discuss Chaka’s condition and asked him to come down to the hospital right away.  Chaka was looking worse by the moment. My assessment led me to conclude that it was time for the discussion with Steve about sparing Chaka from further suffering. I ran over the options in my mind one more time and reaffirmed that none of the procedures and treatments I could offer for Steve’s approval were likely to lead to good quality time for this kitty. Steve was initially resistant to the idea of euthanasia.  He said he wanted Chaka to “go naturally”.  I explained that cats do not leave this earth gracefully; that they stubbornly cling to life and can suffer for days. In my opinion it has become our sacred responsibility to make the choice to let go when there is little or no hope for recovery.  After all, when felines chose to live inside our homes and we agreed to provide them with safety and food, they ceased to be exposed to predators or severe elements that would  have quickly ended their lives when they were sick or weak.

When a terminally ill or aged cat has been under ongoing veterinary care and close monitoring stops eating, chooses to hide in the closet or under your  bed, stops using the litter box or no longer seeks affection from the family, it is time to consider euthanasia.  In short, the unique daily routine you and your cat have shared has become severely altered.  Your veterinarian may still discuss medical procedures and treatments that could prolong kitty’s life.  However, the final decision is up to you, the pet parent.  It’s best to discuss with family members and friends at what point you will choose euthanasia as the time approaches. Your veterinarian will provide support and counsel through the process.  As feline health care givers, we are committed to assisting  you with humane end of life care and decision-making

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/
Facebook: Profile Page
Directions: Google | MapQuest | Yahoo!

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