Tagged with " elderly"

Furballs

May 16, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

How often does this happen to you? You are awakened from a sound sleep by the unmistakable sound of your cat about to cough up a furball on the comforter next to you. If you are lucky, you will be able to move kitty safely to the floor or be resigned to washing the comforter again! Many cat owners think that vomiting hairballs is normal behavior in a cat. But that is not always true. For example, one of my patients is Francis, a 14 year old handsome red and white tabby, who was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago. Up until last year Francis flourished, his weight went back to normal, his appetite was consistently good, and his litter box habits were regular. Then 6 months ago, Francis came in with a few days history of decreased appetite and vomiting. His physical exam was normal; his basic blood tests and urinalysis were normal. A few days later Francis vomited a furball. His owner was happy figuring this was the reason for the symptoms. Over time his weight began to decrease, and he intermittently repeated his pattern of exhibiting a poor appetite and then a few days later vomiting a furball. Additional blood tests and an abdominal ultrasound indicated the possibility of pancreatitis and/ or inflammatory bowel disease as the cause(s) of his symptoms. For now, we are keeping a close eye on Francis. If his condition changes, we will discuss confirming this diagnosis by biopsy and possibly diet changes and medication to treat those diseases.

To his owner, Francis was just having furball trouble. To his doctor, Francis’ furball vomiting was an indication of an underlying problem. Why was I suspicious? A review of Francis’s history indicated that he was vomiting furballs much more frequently than he had in the past. Vomiting furballs more often, particularly in a middle aged or older cat – even as the only change in a cat’s behavior; can be an indication that something is amiss. Either Francis was ingesting more fur because of increased grooming activity – meaning itchy skin (see recent post), or there was a change in the way food was moving through his upper digestive system. There are multiple reasons why this might have happened. Chronic inflammatory disease is the most common explanation. Pain or hormonal changes can also result in alterations in intestinal movement. Just as with Francis, a visit to your veterinarian is a good place to start to rule out an underlying problem.

A few months ago Francis’ owner told me, “ You were right doctor”. What he meant was that he had been skeptical when I had expressed my initial concerns that Francis’ vomiting reflected more than just furballs. Francis’ owner is a loyal reader of this blog. When he was in the other day, he suggested that I write about furballs. He had overheard a comment between cat owners that furball vomiting was routine ( i.e. normal). He now knows that it isn’t necessarily so. He asked that I write about furballs to educate other cat owners about this situation. I am happy to oblige.

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

thefelinehospital.com | Profile Page | Directions

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Golden Years Cats: Making Their Lives Long, Happy and Healthy!

Jun 12, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Time slips by more quickly for our pets than for us. One day we realize that our favorite cute kitty is now a senior citizen. What can we do to help them “live long and prosper”?

Just like for people, nutrition, exercise, medical care, social interactions and environmental modifications improve and optimize our senior cats lives.

Nutrition: many elderly cats have metabolic diseases such as kidney disease or diabetes and do best on a prescription diet targeted toward controlling these diseases. Arthritis is common in older cats and a food high in anti-inflammatory fatty acids such as Hill’s J/D reduces pain and improves mobility. Canned foods increase water consumption and can help prevent constipation and are often more palatable for finicky elderly cats tastes. Increasing the variety of canned foods and warming the food a little can also tempt the appetite of debilitated senior cats. When constipation is significant, adding ¼ tsp. of Miralax over the counter stool softener can help (consult your veterinarian first before starting the Miralax).

Exercise and environmental modifications: the less elderly cats move, the harder it can be for them to maintain their muscle mass and flexibility. Encourage your cat to play using laser pointers, fishing pole type toys, and other interactive toys. Put step stools or chairs out next to beds and windows to help them jump up and down to favorite places. Make sure litter boxes and food and water bowls are easily accessible. Litter boxes should be low enough that the kitty can get in and out of easily. Try to avoid covered litter boxes, as they can be awkward for arthritic kitties to use without bumping their heads. Heated cat beds can soothe aching joints, and make winter temperatures or an air-conditioned home more comfortable for senior cats.

Medical Care: since elderly cats develop many of the same aging health problems that we have, we can greatly improve both the quality and length of their lives with good medical care. It would be nice if our cats could talk to us and tell us how they feel. They can’t. Our senior cats need to be examined and have lab tests taken every 6 months. Given their rapid aging, this is equivalent to every 3-4 years for a human! Many health problems can be prevented, cured, or managed effectively with early intervention. Your cat cannot tell you it is painful, has kidney or dental disease, or arthritis. Your veterinarian can detect those problems and help.

Social interactions: your senior cat may not seek out attention as much as younger cags in the household. They may be marginalized by the other cats in the household and do not have the energy to fight for attention Try to spend 10 minutes twice a day giving extra attention to your senior cat. You will both enjoy it, and it will make the quality of both your lives better!

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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