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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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Tips on Medicating Cats (Part 2 of 2)

Jun 9, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

You can read part 1 here.

Some cats are more challenging, and none of the previous suggestions will work. Since our goal is getting the medicine into the cat, discuss with your veterinarian when things aren’t working so they can choose another option. “Compounded medications” may be more expensive, but can make life easier for you and your cat. Compounded medications may be available from your veterinarian or from a compounding pharmacy by prescription; your neighborhood pharmacy may not be able to do this. Some pharmacies will mail or ship medications to you.

Options include:

  • Flavored Chew Tablets
    We have found that beef-flavored metronidazole is working well for Katie!
  • Liquid Medications
    Chicken and fish are two popular flavors. Some cats will take the flavored liquid food mixed into their canned food, making it easy to have pet-sitters medicate your cat when you are away. If not, the oral liquid to squirt in the cat’s mouth can work well.
  • Transdermal Cream
    If your cat will not take anything mixed in food and won’t let you near their mouth, some medications can be formulated into a cream that you rub on the inner (pink) side of the cat’s ear. Methimazole for hyperthyroid cats can be formulated as a transdermal medication. The pharmacy will send syringes or “pens”, and you’ll squirt a measured amount onto a gloved finger (so you don’t medicate yourself!) to rub in your cat’s ear.
  • Injections
    Some cats tolerate a small needle and injection better than anything given by mouth. Again, not all medications are available this way, but if you’re having trouble, ask your veterinarian for help.

We know that giving medicines to cats can be very difficult, and the last thing we want is “Every time my cat sees me, s/he runs away”. So, if things aren’t going well – please contact your veterinarian to let them know. We want the best for your cat – and for you.

Flavored tablets, liquids and some can even be administered as a “transdermal cream”, to rub on the inside (pink part) of the cat’s ears. Some medications are available in injectable form, like giving insulin with a tiny syringe and needle. Since our goal is getting the medicine into the cat, discuss with your veterinarian when things aren’t working so they can choose another option. Compounded medications may be more expensive, but can make life easier for you and your cat.

Dr Dale Rubenstein

Dr. Rubenstein opened the doors of A Cat Clinic, the first all-feline veterinary practice in Montgomery County, in 1986. She earned her BA in Biology from Oberlin College, her MS in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Maryland and her DVM from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. She became board certified in feline practice, one of only 80 diplomats in the U.S., through the American Board of Veterinary Practices (ABVP) in 1996 and re-certified in 2006.

Dr. Rubenstein is also a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), Cornell Feline Health Center, Montgomery County Humane Society Feline Focus Committee, Montgomery County Veterinary Medicine Association, as well as a member of the credentialing committee of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP).

A Cat Clinic, Boyds, MD
14200 Clopper Road,
Boyds, MD 20841

Phone: 301-540-7770
Fax: 301-540-2041
Email: messages@acatclinic.us

Website: http://www.acatclinic.us/
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Pleasant Pet Visits

Jun 6, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

How can I get my cat into the carrier and to the vet?

Fear is the primary cause of misbehavior. Knowing this can help prevent problematic veterinary visits.

GETTING YOUR CAT INTO THE CARRIER

  1. Keep the carrier out in the home. Put treats inside. Train cats to view the carrier as a safe haven and “home away from home.” A quick response is crucial in case of disaster or emergency.
  2. Carriers that have both a top and a front opening are best. Top-loading carriers allow for stress-free placement and removal of the cat. A removable carrier top enables cats to be examined while remaining in the bottom half of the carrier. Do not “dump” a cat out of the carrier.

ADJUSTING TO CAR RIDES

  1. Always put the cat in a carrier or other safe container.
  2. Take the cat for regular car rides, beginning with very short ones, to places other than the veterinary hospital.
  3. To prevent car sickness, do not feed before traveling.
  4. Reward verbally, with positive attention, and with treats.

VETERINARY VISITS

  1. Bring along the cat’s favorite treats, toys, and blanket.
  2. Perform regular home maintenance procedures, including grooming, nail trimming, teeth brushing.
  3. ”Play vet” procedures that mimic temperature taking, ear cleaning, and pilling can help cats better adjust to the veterinary hospital and to future home care when necessary.
  4. Regular trips to the veterinary hospital for “fun” visits involving no examinations or procedures provide owners and staff with the opportunity to reward the cat with praise and food treats.

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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What? Adopt a(nother) Cat?

Jun 3, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

It’s June already, the grill’s out and ready to go! OK, so you current cat avoids the barbie- and that’s a good thing because it’s dangerous! So while it’s fun to think that your cat might become the household cook (and if any pet could it would be the cat since  dogs would just steal the food off the counter and eat it right then and there, wrapper and all), it’s much better to think about getting a(nother) cat for fun, affection and entertainment.

June is Adopt a Cat Month, celebrated by the American Humane Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, ASPCA, CATalyst Council and petfinder.com. Here are the Top 5 Joys of Owning a Cat and now that you’re convinced, check out the Top Ten Checklist for Adopting a Cat.  Cats are social animals, so a feline friend can be a great addition to your family- just do a little research in advance.  The best way to celebrate AND help your community is to visit your local shelter, look on their website, or check out petfinder.com or adoptapet.com to see what cat is in your area and which purrsonality is right for your household.

According to Jan McHugh-Smith, President of the Humane Society of Pikes Peak Region in Colorado Springs, adopting an older cat is especially rewarding.  “Adult cats are just big kittens with developed personalities.  They come in all shape, sizes and colors; you can adopt a cool cat, a lap cat, a fat cat.  Just adopt.”

Your veterinarian can provide you information on how to proceed AND how to introduce a new cat (and check out the felinedocs blog post), and the veterinary team may even have some leads on some cats that need a loving home!

So start planning that summertime dinner party to celebrate Adopt a Cat Month! More chicken, please….

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 on Medicating Cats (Part 1 of 2)

May 26, 2012 by     4 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

When your veterinarian recommends oral medication for your cat, most owner’s first reaction is “Are you going to come to my house? I can’t do this!”

Fortunately, there are a lot of options. Here are some tips for making the process easier for you and your cat.

  • If your cat will allow you to give a pill, tip your cat’s nose to the  sky so you have a straight shot to drop the pill into the back of the cat’s throat. Follow with a small amount of water in a syringe to help your cat swallow.
  • Pet PillerPet Pillers have flexible rubber tips. This allows you to get the pill to the back of your cat’s mouth without putting your hand in your cat’s mouth.
  • Pill PocketsPill pockets are a chewable treat, so you can put the pill inside. Try a pill pocket without medication to see if this will work; if so, put the pill inside and pinch the chew treat so the pill is coated with the treat. This works best for medications that have minimal taste, such as methimazole.
  • The “hairball medicine” trick: if your cat likes Cat Lax, put the pill in about one inch of Cat Lax and use a tongue depressor (or the back end of a spoon) to smear the Cat Lax and pill on the roof of your cat’s mouth. When s/he swallows the Cat Lax, they will swallow the pill. Some cats will tolerate butter or cream cheese.
  • Syringe with needle cut offThe “syringe and baby food” trick: ask your veterinarian for a 3-ml syringe with the needle cut off  (Precut Oral Feeding Syringes are also available).  Using strained meat baby food, put the pill in 2 ml of baby food, and squirt the baby food into your cat’s mouth.
  • Ask your veterinarian if the medication can be crushed and mixed with food – again, use this for pills that have little taste.
    • If your cat eats canned food, crush the pill and mix with a small amount of food first, then let your cat have the rest of the meal.
    • Does your cat like people food, i.e. strained meat (chicken) baby food? Or tuna fish? If so, you can crush the pill and mix with a small amount of these medications (always check with your veterinarian first, especially if your cat has food sensitivities). You may warm the food briefly in the microwave – test to be sure it doesn’t get too hot. Then mix in the pill.
    • The “melted butter trick” – this is also helpful when you’re trying to give 1/8 or some other fraction of a tablet that is very difficult to divide accurately. Crush the pill, mix with melted butter. Make an aluminum foil boat, freeze, and cut the butter into 1/8’s etc.

If your cat seems to be scratching you with all 4 legs trying to get a way, wrapping your cat in a towel can help. Ask your veterinarian or the hospital staff to show you how to do this.

If your cat is still says “Nope, not going to happen”, read part 2 here.

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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Do we really know what it takes to keep a cat happy?

May 18, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

For the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing to be a participant on a panel that will explore the need for environmental enrichment for our pet cats. What the heck is environmental enrichment, you might say? Sounds too complicated for what is thought to be a low maintenance pet. What it means is that you make allowances for an animal’s needs that you know are important to the way they would live if they could make their own choices. And I’m finding that lots of the things that I intuitively feel about a cat’s needs have actually been documented by some swell researchers that prove the need to add another level of consideration to care we give our cats.

Here’s a little food for thought. If you were kept in the lap of luxury with fully nutritious cookies and crackers available 24/7, you’d like that, yes? But wait, there’s no books, no TV, no computer, no exercise room. But there’s plenty of cookies over in that one corner of the kitchen. You’re only allowed to be in this 15 room mansion and never given even a deck of cards to play solitaire. Maybe you’d have to live with 2 or 3 other people and one of them was a bully, not looking so good now, eh? Makes you really think about what it means to be truly happy as opposed to just taken care of. Zoos have known this for years. Think about the outrage you would have if a zoo didn’t take an animal’s behavioral needs into account when planning how to keep it.

Cats have a job. It’s to be a hunter. They’ve developed amazing skills to be really good at this over thousands of years. We’ve only asked them to come inside and live with us maybe for the last 50 or 60 years. Through years of breeding we altered dog behavior and as well as form, but we never asked the cat to change their habits. We wanted good hunters and they obliged us. But when we decided to have them live inside exclusively, we didn’t like the stalking and pouncing on our leg behaviors, or we didn’t like that they needed really clean places to go to the bathroom, or we didn’t like them doing things that made them feel more secure like scratching the furniture. So, at first, we said that all those behaviors were “wrong”. Now we know that all those behaviors are “right” and that cats that don’t do them have done a remarkable job of adapting to a highly restrictive set of circumstances. Good thing too because most cats that are seen as doing “wrong” behavior end up in a shelter.

Recognizing the need to improve a cat’s environment is the first step to helping your cat be happier living with you. Luckily, there are some really neat cheap and easy ways to do this. The most important thing is that you change your perspective and start seeing yourself as a good zookeeper as well as a loving owner.

We feed them, protect them from injury and disease, and we shower our love on them with cuddles and coos. Most of us think that we are doing the best for our cats by making a physically safe environment. But now we know that we need to rethink the needs of this wonderful creature. It’s not enough to just keep them from the physical perils of their natural life style without working on their behavioral and emotional needs.

There’s a ton of reliable information available to learn about creating a happy cat home. Here are some great resources to check out to start the journey. In a few months we’ll be able to add information from the American Association of Feline Practitioners guidelines too! I’m really looking forward to continuing my journey as well.

http://indoorpet.osu.edu/
https://ckm.osu.edu/sitetool/sites/indoorpetpublic/documents/handouts/Cats_Indoors_flier.pdf
http://www.fabcats.org/behaviour/cat_friendly_home/info.html
http://www.fabcats.org/behaviour/cat_friendly_home/playtime.html
http://www.fabcats.org/behaviour/cat_friendly_home/Environmental_enrichment_JFMS%20article%20for%20website.pdf
http://catvets.com/healthtopics/

Dr Eliza Sundahl

Dr. Eliza Sundahl completed her veterinary studies at Kansas State University in 1978 after graduating from Boston University. She has spent a great deal of her professional life promoting feline medicine and continues to do so. She has held many positions in The American Association of Feline Practitioners, including 2 years as president. She was involved in establishing board certification in feline medicine through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and worked with that organization for many years to help veterinarians through the certification process.

Dr. Sundahl started at the KC Cat Clinic in 1978 and became owner in 1979. She has been happily working with the wonderful clients and patients at the clinic ever since. She feels like she has the best job in the world. She shares the clinic with Boo and Simon and her home with Babycat, Ferrous, Boo (another one), and Angelo.

Kansas City Cat Clinic
7107 Main St.
Kansas City, MO 64114

Phone: 816-361-4888
Email: kccatclinic@gmail.com

Website: http://www.kccatclinic.com/
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Achoo! Achoo!

May 13, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

We all know what  a sneeze sounds like whether it is from a you or your cat. A sneeze  results from irritation in the nose, which is called rhinitis. An important part of the respiratory tract’s defense system, a sneeze is a reflex action made up of two parts. The first is an irritation within the nasal passages that causes release of inflammatory chemicals, which sensitize the nerve endings, sending a message to the brain. That triggers a series of steps resulting in air being forcibly expelled through the nose.

The sneeze reflex is the same regardless of the cause. However, characteristics of the sneeze point to the cause. If your cat’s sneezes are short with no, or clear, spray discharge and is otherwise healthy, then most likely he is suffering from an allergy or minor irritation. Plug in air fresheners, kitty litter,household products and plants(, especially cut flowers) are common causes of allergies in cats. Even indoor cats can be affected by pollen which comes in through open windows or on clothing. There are many options for treating allergic rhinitis, but the first step is to identify and remove the culprit. If that is not possible, there are many anti-allergy products that can be used safely in cats as directed by your veterinarian.

Sometimes the sneeze is accompanied by a thick greenish-yellow discharge or runny eyes. This is usually indicative of an upper respiratory infection. If your cat also shows signs of not feeling well ( eating less, decreased energy, noisy stuffy breathing), then a visit to the doctor is the next step. Most infections are viral. Two viruses that cause the majority of upper respiratory infections are feline herpes virus and calici virus.  Veterinarians recommend that ALL cats get vaccinated against these viruses because they are quite hardy. They can live outside the body for 7-14 days and you can bring them home( via clothing, hands, or objects.) Often viral infections can be treated the same way as the common cold in humans. Occassionally however, there are complications. In rare cases, calici virus can cause serious, if not life-threatening, disease.  A thorough physical exam and consultation with your veterinarian will result in the best plan for a speedy recovery for your kitty.

Uncommonly  a sneezing cat will   have a discharge out of only one nostril. Sometimes the sneezing will be bloody. This type of sneeze can be indicative of a variety of problems. Your cat may have something stuck up its nose.( Grass seeds are a common nasal foreign body in outdoor cats.) , Sneezing may point to a dental problem; often an abscessed tooth. The roots of a cat’s upper teeth lie very close to the nasal passages. The sneezing can be the result of infection or inflammation surrounding the tooth affecting the nose.  Unilateral nasal discharge and sneezing  also can be indicative of chronic rhinitis – the result of having had an upper respiratory infection that damaged the nasal passages. In rare circumstances in older cats, one sided sneezing and discharge may point to a developing nasal tumor.The diverse reasons for sneezing often require a diagnostic work-up by your veterinarian. The prognosis and treatment plan will depend on the diagnostic results and interpretation.

Although it is  a simple reflex action, the sneeze is an important sign.. Its character is a clue to the cause of your cat’s sneezing and to the best treatment . Your cat’s doctor is the best resource for a successful plan to eliminate your cat’s sneezing problem.

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 Do Kittens Need?

May 12, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

Kittens learn from each other and their Mom and need them to develop their normal behaviors. They need social and physical contact to gain confidence. As they grow older, they will need each other less but remain interested in social interaction. The presence of the Mom with the litter also increases confidence. Kittens feel safe clustered around their Mom and can show interest in novel people or situations. If the Mom is confident around people the kittens will quickly learn to be sociable with humans. If she is hostile, they will learn to be too.

The first important relationship with a kitten is with his Mom. They are entirely dependent upon her for their survival. Before two weeks of age, they don’t move around much, have not developed many abilities that they will later and have poor eye sight.  She anticipates everything they need from nutrition to cleaning to toileting. By licking their abdomen, she stimulates the passing of urine and feces that she can then consume.

All social contact is limited to the litter and Mom. The family is matriarchal and independent. Related females in a colony will help with child rearing. They may help with nursing or moving the kittens. There is a lot of safety in numbers. Related Moms will guard kittens remaining behind if they have to be moved. Alone, a mother cat exposes the kittens left behind to dangers as she moves them one by one.

As kittens get older, they begin to move around more and begin to develop more independent behavior. In the early stages of these changes, they remain very dependent upon Mom for all their needs. As they begin to play with each other, they learn to communicate effectively with other cats and begin to develop the predatory skills they will need as adults.

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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Petting Induced Aggression

May 8, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

I recently received the following question:

Why do cats completely flip out when you scratch their backs right above the tail? Our cat acts like she loves/hates it and is about to have a seizure every time.
– E. Rich

This could be a very normal reaction for your cat.  Some cats will develop “pet induced aggression” when they are petted for too long.  It can be on any part of the body. It is usually the head, the belly, or the tail base.  The best way to avoid this is to pet them only when you initiate the petting NOT when they come to be petted.

This could also be a sign of pain from arthritis or a neurological condition.  You veterinarian could best determine this with a video of the action.  Sometimes a radiograph of the area can be very helpful to determine if arthritis is involved. If this is the issue, mediations or a special diet may be extremely helpful.

In summary, it may be behavioral and minor modifications may be the solution.  Videoing of the incident may be very helpful to your veterinarian.  If it is a physical problem, other diagnostics and medications may be the answer.  In either instant, visiting a veterinarian should help diagnosis and treatment.

 

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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To Feed or Not To Feed – Canned Food – That is the Question!

Apr 9, 2012 by     7 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Part 1: A Hefty Debate

Last year, a study including 450,000 cats was released called “State of Pet Health 2011 Report”. In that study, obesity ranked in the top three diagnoses for cats. The study also found that the incidence of diabetes in cats over the last five years has increased by 16% – not surprisingly, the two are related. They are both related to diet, as are several other medical issues we see in cats. This makes a cat’s diet one of the most important parts of good preventive health.

Over the past few decades, with increasing vigor, veterinarians and animal nutritionists have been debating the merits of dry foods (kibble) versus canned foods. One downside to feeding dry foods is that even though all commercially available diets are formulated to meet certain nutritional standards, dry food is quite the opposite of what cats naturally need. (Click here for more on feline obesity and diet from Dr. Lund.) The best way to encourage weight loss in a cat is to minimize the dry food and feed most calories as canned foods. Two recent studies were released this year demonstrated that the addition of water to similar diets resulted in weight reduction and increased activity1, 2

The bottom line: Canned food is more like a cat’s natural diet in consistency, nutritional content and caloric density. Canned food will help your cat lose weight and keep it off. And most cats just plain like canned foods better!

Part 2: The Tooth of the Matter

In the past, many veterinarians made the recommendation to switch from feeding canned diets to feeding dry kibble for the sake of cats’ dental health; a canned-food-only diet was the prime suspect for the poor dental hygiene seen in the majority of cats. In 2011, in the “State of Pet Health 2011 Report”, the number of cats with dental disease surpassed the number of healthy cats seen after age 3 (over 50% of cats!), making it the most common feline disease.

The reality of feline dental disease is that genetics has a large part to play in your cat’s oral health, just as it does in humans. While canned food really does not help eliminate plaque and tartar, neither do many of the commercially available dry foods, either! Most of the commercially available dry diets have kibbles that are small enough that cats will gulp them down whole. More recent research has shown that in order for a dry food to help with dental care, a larger-sized kibble, typical in special diets designed specifically for oral health, is required3. Larger kibbles allow for more tooth penetration and “scraping” of the tooth. Some of these special diets also have anti-plaque additives that help. Some diets advertise anti-calculus agents, too, but these do not seem to help. Once the plaque has hardened, it seems a professional dental cleaning is the best way to get the teeth clean again.

If you try out a dental diet, you will notice that your cats are significantly noisier when they eat – suddenly, you will be able to hear the crispy crunching sound of food being chewed, when before, the only dinnertime sound was the tink-tink-tink of kibbles being pushed around in the bowl.

The bottom line: Canned food is not your cat’s oral enemy, and not just any dry food will help keep their teeth healthy. A combination of special dental-focused diets and annual oral exams by your veterinarian are the best team for cats’ teeth.

Part 3: Litter-ally a Matter of Concentration

If you consider the cat’s natural diet, a rodent is about 70-78% water. Dry food contains about 10% water. Cats are descended from desert animals, so their instinct is to take in water from their prey versus looking for water sources. While a cat will noticeably drink more water when feeding a dry food versus a canned food, they never drink enough to compensate for the lack of moisture in their food, and will exist in a perpetual state of mild dehydration. In fact, their water intake is about ½ that of a cat that eats canned food, even if you have a cat fountain, give your kitty a “princess cup”, put ice in the water bowl, or let your cat drink from the faucet.

Mild dehydration, while not life threatening on its own, does mean that cats produce less urine than if they are well-hydrated, and that urine is more concentrated. Overly concentrated urine has been linked to urinary issues such as bladder stones or urinary crystals. Urine concentration is a measurement of how much “stuff” is in the bladder. The more “stuff” there is floating around in there, the more likely it is to stick together. The more it sticks together, the bigger it gets, until it starts to irritate the lining of the bladder as it sloshes around. Blood may or may not be visible in the urine. This irritation makes urinating an unpleasant event and may cause your cat to choose to eliminate somewhere other than the litterbox. (More information about litterbox issues from Dr. Colleran.) If the “stuff” gets too big, it may even cause a blockage in the urethra, which can become an emergency very quickly.

The bottom line: More water is better for your cat’s urinary health, and the best place to get it is from a canned diet.

1. Cameron KM, Morris PJ, Hackett RM, Speakman JR. The effects of increasing water content to reduce the energy density of the diet on body mass changes following caloric restriction in domestic cats. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). Jun 2011;95(3):399-408.
2. Wei A, Fascetti AJ, Villaverde C, Wong RK, Ramsey JJ. Effect of water content in a canned food on voluntary food intake and body weight in cats. Am J Vet Res. Jul 2011;72(7):918-923.
3. Clarke, DE, et al. Effect of Kibble Size, Shape and Additives on Plaque in Cats. J. Vet. Dent. Summer 2010; 27(2): 84-89

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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