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Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Jun 2, 2011 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

You’ve gotten the results of a blood test and your veterinarian has just told you that your cat tested positive for FIV. Sometimes they even call it Feline AIDS. It’s very scary sounding and you don’t know what it means for your sweet cat. Rest assured that it doesn’t always mean that something terrible is imminent. If your cat isn’t showing any signs of illness when the test is done, with good care, it’s very likely that you will have a healthy, happy cat for years. Let’s talk about what FIV is, what it does, and how you manage it.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV, is a member of a family of viruses called Retroviruses. One of the things that makes it so scary is that HIV is also in this family and we all have a lot of anxiety when we hear about anything remotely like that. A cousin of FIV is Feline Leukemia Virus. It’s a Retrovirus too. These viruses like to live in the cells of the immune system. FIV can live quietly for years and never start any trouble and our cats look and act absolutely normal. But when it does become active, it causes certain cells in the immune system to “turn off” and causes an immune deficiency syndrome. That means that cats start getting sick from infections that don’t ordinarily bother a cat with a normal ability to fight off disease. We don’t know what triggers one cat to stay healthy and another to activate the virus so it causes trouble, but we think that if we keep them as healthy as possible, their immune system can better keep the virus at bay.

Cats get FIV almost exclusively from the bite of another cat. It isn’t shared by licking or grooming like Feline Leukemia Virus is. Cats that don’t fight don’t spread the disease. That’s probably why we see very little problem with spread within a household. It is unusual to see the virus in more than one cat in multi-cat households as long as cats are kept inside and there is little turnover. If a cat gets exposed to FIV, it takes about 2 months before a test will be positive. So a good rule of thumb is to test a cat when you adopt them into the household and then be sure to test again at least 2 months later. Cats that are positive for FIV should stay inside. They are more likely to fight with stranger cats and spread the disease, as well as being more likely to get sick from things that could be a real problem if your immune system goes on the blink.

If cats are healthy, you’ll want to do whatever you can to keep them that way. Be vigilant in looking for signs of disease. Be aggressive with preventative medicine such a good dental care, parasite prevention, and regular twice a year physical exam and lab work. Then be aggressive about treating problems you find early. If your cat is sick with FIV, your vet will direct treatment specifically to the particular problem that is at hand. Illnesses can be very different from cat to cat. Discuss the treatment and management plan that works the best for you and your household with your vet. There is a vaccine for FIV but it will not help once a cat is exposed and has several concerns that should be discussed with your vet. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. It’s not for every cat.

So the upshot is FIV doesn’t have to mean something awful. Working together with your veterinarian, you and your cat can have many healthy, comfortable years ahead of you.

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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Diarrhea in Cats

Jun 2, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Diarrhea is defined as the passing of soft or watery stool (feces). It can be caused by many things including stress, bacteria, viruses, diet, toxins, immune mediated disorders, drugs, and even conditions not directly related to the gastrointestinal tract such as pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, or adrenal gland disease.

Diarrhea can be acute (sudden onset- lasting a few days to a week) or chronic (lasting more than a few weeks or intermittently over several weeks to months).   Frequent small amounts of feces with blood or mucous present are seen with disease in the colon.  Larger amounts of feces passed once or twice a day is typical of small intestinal disease.  Cats with small intestinal disease often times have weight loss associated with their diarrhea.

Testing for diseases that cause diarrhea can include fecal tests, blood work, and sometimes even radiographs, ultrasound, or biopsy for more chronic cases.  Treatment will depend on the cause of the diarrhea.

Since some bacteria and parasites can be transmitted from your cat to you and your family a routine fecal check and de-worming should be performed yearly in accordance with the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control.

If your cat has a bout of diarrhea, seems otherwise healthy and playful, and is current on his/her health care you do not need to be alarmed, but should monitor more closely when scooping the box and make sure that he/she is eating and drinking.  If the diarrhea is persisting or your kitty is not eating or drinking well or seems more lethargic, you should call your veterinarian.

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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Itchy Cats: Where is the Hair?

Jun 2, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

One of the most appealing features of our favorite species is their sleek and soft fur (apologies to the hairless cat breeds out there!).  But what happens when your cat is itchy?  Most cats do what cats do best—they groom themselves—only their grooming goes into hyper-drive, and all that beautiful fur can vanish in an instant!

The most common reason for a cat to be itchy is allergies.  Cats have allergies just like humans do, and they react to allergic triggers by becoming itchy.  When this happens, cats scratch and lick to try to relieve that itchy sensation.  It is amazing how quickly the hair can come off!  Cats’s tongues have small barbs on the surface, and they are just as efficient at shaving as an electric razor.  Sometimes sores can develop from too much licking or scratching.

What can complicate things is that most allergic cats, just like people with allergies, are rarely reacting to only one thing.  So, your itchy cat may be affected by seasonal pollens, mold spores, insect bites and even from the food he eats.  What veterinarians try to do to minimize the level of itchiness that your cat is experiencing is to eliminate any possible allergic triggers that we are able to control.  Because we know that most cats with allergies are fiercely reactive to insect bites, we always recommend that all cats be treated with monthly topical flea control products—even in situations where it is not certain that fleas might be a factor.  It also is helpful to change your cat’s food to a special diet that eliminates any possible reactive proteins or other ingredients that might be creating problems for your cat.  Interestingly, if your cat does suffer from food allergies, it is almost always a reaction to a food that he has been eating for a long time, and not to something new.

Obviously, pollens and molds are much more difficult to eliminate.  Cats who stay indoors are just as affected by these airborne triggers as those who spend time outdoors.  We may be able to keep your allergic cat more comfortable just by following those diet and topical treatment steps because that might help minimize what he is reacting to and decrease his overall level of itchiness.  However, if your cat is still itchy and miserable after you’ve instituted those steps, and moving to an “allergy-free” state like Arizona is not an option, then medications might be beneficial.  Antihistamines and cortisol products can help control itchiness associated with allergies, and depending on how severe your cat’s allergies are, doses can be kept low.  Some cats need longer-term treatments than others do, and it is not unusual for very allergic cats to actually receive special and individualized injections of compounds that are designed to decrease that cat’s specific areas of reactivity.

Itchiness in cats is not always associated with allergies, though.  Older cats who suddenly develop unusual itchiness might be suffering from internal problems such as an overactive thyroid condition.  Cats will also sometimes lick at areas that are uncomfortable, such as stiff or aching joints or irritated urinary bladders.

Your veterinarian can help with diagnosing the problem, and with recommendations for treatment.  No cat needs to be bald if they weren’t born that way!

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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Vomiting in Cats: How Much is Normal?

May 21, 2011 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

What cat owner doesn’t occasionally come home to a surprise pile of vomit, usually on their best chair or Persian rug?

It is not unusual to see a hairball every so often even when we think we are being diligent about brushing and grooming our cats. Cats shed their hair based upon both increasing daylight hours and warmer temperatures so consequently, indoor cats may shed all year round. For long-haired cats that tend to shed and form mats in their coats, clipping hair from the underside and backside (sanitary clip) can cut down on unpleasant grooming at home. Lion shaves are also recommended to reduce hairballs in long haired cats.

Stress such as a move to a new household, introduction of a new pet, construction or seeing outdoor cats through a window can increase shedding.  Most importantly, internal or external parasites (worms or fleas), skin disorders or any illness can cause your cat to excessively lick or groom themselves or to lose more hair than usual. If your cat is vomiting hairballs more frequently than usual, a visit to the vet is important!

For long-haired cats that tend to shed and form mats in their coats, clipping hair from the underside and backside (sanitary clip) can cut down on unpleasant grooming at home. Lion shaves are also recommended to reduce hairballs.

Vomiting dry food eaten too quickly is a common problem because a cat has a very sensitive gag reflex. Try feeding multiple small meals and separating cats that eat quickly in an effort to compete for food.

Vomiting food, brown liquid (bile) or foamy clear fluid (saliva) more than once a week is not normal. A thorough physical exam followed by blood and urine tests will help us detect diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease or hyperthyroidism that could be causing vomiting. Dehydration itself may be life threatening so subcutaneous or intravenous fluids and injections to stop vomiting might be required right away to get a cat through a vomiting crisis. Once the patient is stable, further testing can be done to establish an underlying cause. A feeding trial may be suggested to determine if a food hypersensitivity or allergy is contributing to the problem. X-rays are used to determine whether a foreign object, tumor or obstruction is affecting the stomach or intestines.

If these baseline diagnostic tests don’t lead to a diagnosis and the vomiting persists, ultrasound of the abdomen may give clues as to diseases and samples can sometimes by collected with a tiny needle under ultrasound guidance.  A pathologist can then review slides containing the collected cells for diagnostic clues.

Endoscopy is a non-invasive technique for collecting biopsy samples from the stomach and intestinal linings. These tiny tissue samples allow differentiation between an inflammatory process and cancer. A long flexible tube containing fiberoptic bundles is passed into the cats’ mouth under anesthesia and is slowly advanced through the esophagus, stomach and upper small intestine. A flexible tool is passed through a channel in the scope that snips out tiny pieces of tissue while the scope operator is visualizing the site.

At times, the best and most direct way to diagnose a disease of the digestive tract is by doing an exploratory surgery of the abdomen.  The advantage is direct visualization of organs and masses as well as a means of collecting good tissue samples for biopsy.

Please schedule an exam if your cat is suffering from vomiting.

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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