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Play Aggression

Feb 17, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

What to do when your busy kitten or young cat is driving you crazy!

We frequently get complaints that a newly adopted kitten or young cat has found a new game that they really enjoy- attacking the feet, legs or hands of the humans in the household. Sometimes they will pester older cats in the household with playful attacks as well.  Guess what- this is really normal behavior! However, it is not very acceptable in most of our households so we need to work out some changes in the routine so every one is happy.  These guidelines are effective in most cases, but talk with your veterinarian if problems persist or are worsening.

Play aggression is usually seen in young cats and kittens. Usually stalking, pouncing, and even hopping sideways are seen. The cat will bite or occasionally scratch moving hands, feet, or the family member moving through the house. It is most common in single cat households where the cat is alone of much of the day. Playing roughly with the kitten or encouraging it to bite or swat at hands and feet also encourages play aggression. Sometimes play aggression is seen in multi-cat households when the other cat is old or debilitated or very passive. Orphan kittens that were hand- raised or weaned early are frequently play aggressive as they did not receive socialization by the queen. They do not learn to sheathe their claws or inhibit their bites.

  1. Often the easiest solution is to add a second cat or kitten of similar age and playful temperament. They will play with each other and aggressive play will be inhibited because the new companion will bite back or become defensive when play becomes too aggressive.
  2. Never use physical punishment (hitting or swatting) to stop the play aggression. This can cause the aggression to escalate and transform into fear aggression.
  3. Treatment is fairly straightforward. Increased play activity involving moving toys at least 15 minutes one to two times a day is critical.
    1. Fishing pole toys / string toys with toys at the end of a cord. These encourage pouncing and stalking. Never leave toys with strings out where the cat can reach it when not supervised to avoid string eating and possible surgery.
    2. Laser pointers: play laser tag. Do not shine directly in the cat’s eyes. You can be watching TV and playing with the cat at the same time!
    3. Hand-made toys such as old socks stuffed with crinkly paper or tissues.
    4. Mouse-in-the-house mechanical toys. These move around the house. Use Google for websites that offer these toys.
    5. Kong-type toys stuffed with kibble that the kitty bats around and is rewarded with the food being released.
  4. Play aggression may occur in certain areas of the house such as the hallway from the bedroom to the bathroom (a favorite location). Keep Ping Pong balls available to throw down the hall in front of you to redirect your cat’s attention on to an appropriate object.
  5. Keep an air canister (used to clean computer keyboards) next to the chair or sofa where attacks on a seated individual occur. A water squirt gun may also be used. When the cat is observed to be starting the aggression, spray the kitty with the water or compressed air. The point is to startle the kitten so it stops the behavior as it starts.
  6. Do not play directly with your hands or feet and your cat. Always have a toy or other object in between your hands and feet and their teeth and claws. Otherwise you are sending mixed messages to your cat and will confuse them.
  7. Do not push your cat always when it bites at you. This escalates the play to your cat and it will come right back and bite harder.
  8. Put a belled safety collar on your cat. This will help you (or the other cats in the household) detect the presence of the aggressor more easily and help you redirect its play behavior.
  9. Reward the behavior you want to have continue. Do not pet or try to cuddle or give attention to the kitty after it bites or scratches – give it a 15 minute time-out. Reward your cat with food treats and petting when it is acting calm.
  10. Playing with your cat is a reward – these kitties need active play and attention as they are usually high energy. Fifteen minutes twice a day of active play is a minimum needed and some cats need more.
  11. Medication is usually not needed to address play aggression. If another cat is the target of the play aggression, sometimes the target cat becomes anxious enough to require anti-anxiety medications.
  12. There are other types of aggression that cats can display, and sometimes more than one type is seen at the same time. Treatment may differ for these types of behavior. Please call us if problems persist. Most play aggression is resolved if sufficient moving-toy or active  play is received.
  13. Finally, the goal is to help you change the behavior of your cat to stop play aggressive behavior. Any pet can bite or scratch under certain circumstances, especially when they become fearful or are in pain. There is no treatment plan or medication that guarantees that the pet will never bite or scratch again. Use common sense and avoid trying to hold or touch an upset cat. Seek medical attention if a bite or severe scratch occurs.
  14. Please call your veterinarian as needed with updates regarding your cat’s behavior- the sooner your cat “plays nicely”, the happier everyone will be!

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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Disasters!

Feb 13, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

The Northeastern US has certainly received the brunt of natural disasters recently! Blinding blizzards, a horrific hurricane just a few months before that….and an untold number of animals displaced or forever lost because of a natural disaster.

Lost cats! A very scary situation. Dr. Colleran described her experience and what to look for in a previous felinedocs. com blog last month

Four months ago my own CAT Stanley became lost due to my own carelessness, and it’s taken me a long time to be able to write about it. It was postcard-worthy late afternoon in Annapolis. Autumn was approaching and the air was crisp and clear, snapping the halyards and other lines on the sailboats still in their slips. The sun warming the water made the waves slap the bulkhead, gently rocking the boats back and forth. A perfect time for a boat ride, and a perfect day for CAT Stanley to get further acclimated to travel. Instead of a perfect day, it turned into a perfectly horrible day.

As a veterinarian, I work every day to promote the value of cats, espousing the need for keeping your cat indoors, having the proper identification and conditioning it to its carrier for travel. So even though I do all that- all my pets wear snug collars with ID tags and are microchipped-AND that afternoon he even had a harness and lead- he got out of his carrier. I had been working with CAT Stanley on travel conditioning by taking a leisurely ride in my old little putt-putt boat which he’s been on before. We returned to the boat slip safe and sound, I went to the stern to tie up the boat for less than a minute, and when I turned around he was GONE! He had been seemingly so comfortable I’d neglected to properly secure the carrier flap. Nowhere to be found- not under the floor boards even after removing the attached seats, not along the docks and all around the boat yard…. that night was very long as I combed, roamed and called for him in a ten  square block area on both sides of the creek.  I could only imagine how frightened he must have been, and that made me both sad and very angry with myself.

Forty-six agonizing and unlucky days. Though, in a sense, through all that I felt lucky. After four reprints of various versions of scores of signs and flyers, feeding stations, friends, faith and “fingers crossed” were the only “f” words I used. And while fatigue was another, I choose to override it and any nagging negatives by keeping the desired outcome top of mind- for CAT Stanley to be back home again!

The outpouring and support of the community was uplifting and made me grateful to live where I do. “I saw your sign and I think I saw your cat…” was the most common theme of the countless cell phone calls. And surprise! There are several orange tabby and white cats around town, and a one or two even looked like CAT Stanley. One school child used his mother’s phone and called me, breathless-“is your cat a kitten?” And after I told him Stanley was three, he texted me a picture of an adorable tiny orange tabby (no white) that you could hold in one hand- how sweet is that?

Others offered helpful suggestions. “Here’s a link to the City Government Facebook page and they have over 56,000 friends…” Then another- “I know the person who manages the city’s Facebook page and I’ll have them share it..,” “did you post him on Craig’s list?” and even “beware of this old lady who traps stray cats…” And I’m really happy to report that our county animal control shelter is a model of efficiency and empathy- escorting me through the various cat holding and adoption rooms, helping me fill out the lost pet form, and lending me two Have-a -Heart traps. And even after three hunts with a scent tracking dog and her handler, I remained optimistic as I followed her lead  for placing the traps and a scent trail of items or material (even used cat litter!) related to Stanley’s feline friends and me (excepting the cat litter…).

The situation also gave me an opportunity to walk around town and meet some wonderful people face to face. Almost everyone had seen the signs and most agreed to take a picture of the flyer with their cell phone so they would have the information with them in case they spotted CAT Stanley when they were out and about.  I especially remember one bittersweet conversation with a man on his evening run. “I’ve seen your signs and my wife and I have been keeping an eye out….” (Thank you!). And then his follow-up comment that smacked- “he’ll probably be OK- cats can take care of themselves…” No, they can’t! Cats need people was my initial response.  That’s why CAT Stanley has a microchip (and have you seen that the UK is requiring all dogs get microchipped? Hopefully our day will come for dogs AND cats…)

Thankfully, I immediately recognized he was merely trying to make me feel better. But it gave me even more resolve to raise the bar for cat care and welfare in my own community and beyond.

So my vigil continued. I remained diligent and methodical, seeking, searching, calling and following up on every lead. And after forty-four days he was spotted- very close to the home that called me with the first sighting! Within two days he was back home- skinny, initially scared, with collar and tag intact. His housemates gave him the once-over and obligatory nasal-anal assessment (aka butt sniff), CAT Stanley ran upstairs to his favorite hangout, and all was good.

I’m a veterinarian and advocate for cats, and this still happened to me! I was lucky, and even with no “natural disaster” excuses such as snowstorms and hurricanes, tornados or fires, people need to be reminded that we all get careless.  Sometimes there are little or no consequences.  But sometimes the consequences are disasters and end up breaking your heart.

Don’t wait for a disaster. If you haven’t yet taken these steps,  please do them NOW:

  • Microchip your cat and register it! The apps and other support services are very helpful!
  • Keep current close up full-body photos on your computer
  • Make sure when outdoors they are fully supervised
  • Keep them current on their yearly exams, appropriate vaccines and parasite prevention program
  • Give them lots of love and care….so they will want to come home again.

We need cats…they need us!

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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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 Fourth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Jan 3, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion

4 kittens

Four Mewling Kittens: How to Help Your Cat Avoid the Animal Shelter this Holiday

If you missed out on the previous parts:

While this part of the holiday hazard series is not about emergencies, it does address another serious holiday pet topic. As pet ownership is a huge commitment, giving a kitten as a gift should be considered with great caution.  For one thing, cost is a huge consideration – not of the cat itself (depending on the breed), but of the financial commitment that is involved in the cat’s day-to-day care in addition to veterinary costs. If you Google “yearly cost of owning a cat” you’ll get hundreds of results, ranging from $100/month to over $1000/month for food, litter, veterinary care and toys. These estimates do not take into account medical emergencies (hopefully no holiday-related problems, since you’ve read this blog! J) or chronic health issues. The first year of life also tends to be quite a bit more expensive because kittens receive a series of vaccines, and will need to be spayed or neutered (this will cut down on medical costs later in life by preventing unwanted pregnancies, reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, and prevents unwanted behavioral problems for which many cats end up unwanted in shelters). Whatever the cost per month, you should be certain that the recipient of the cat is aware of the ongoing cost and prepared to give the cat the financial investment to keep it healthy. Often, especially in this time economic slump, many pets end up in shelters or on the streets because people are no longer able to provide care and shelter for their pets.

Also, consider the effect on other pets and people in the household. Are you giving a kitten to a teenager who will be going off to college in a few months and possibly be unable to house the cat in the dorm with them? Is anyone in the household allergic to cats? Do you own a large, hostile dog or a boa constrictor that might find a tiny kitten to be a great snack?

Kittens are hard to come by at Christmas time because cats tend to breed during the summer months, so also consider that, if a feline friend is welcome as a gift, maybe an older cat would be a good choice. It may be best to plan to visit the shelter or rescue* together to pick out the new cat, to make sure that the person receiving the cat is getting a cat that they feel a connection with.

If forethought is put into the decision to make a gift of a cat, then the gift can be up to 20 years or more of valuable companionship, but it is not a gift to be given lightly.

*While many people choose purebred cats, remember that only about 20-30% of shelter cats ever get adopted. Consider adopting a rescued pet. Petfinder.com can even help you locate purebred cats that need adoption at local shelters and rescues, if only a purebred will do.

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 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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Top Ten Holiday Gifts for your Cat!

Dec 19, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion

According to a 2011 PetFinder.com poll, 58% of people with cats give them presents for the Holidays and 37% of cat owners also hang a stocking!

Are we crazy, or just crazy about our cats? Or is this another way we can share and celebrate with those we love. Here are my favorite Top Ten Holiday Gifts for cats:

10. Toys: Catnip toys are the obvious, and look for those made in the US with fresh, organically grown cat nip! Not all cats respond to cat nip- it appears genetics play a role in that- and it’s worth trying different kinds and fresh vs. dried to see if your cat gets crazy or mellow. See more on toy safety in Dr. Colleran’s recent post.
9. Food: As veterinarians, we’ve all heard the question “What’s the best food for my cat?” Felinedocs.com have had several posts on feline nutrition; bottom line- it depends. On your cat’s age, lifestyle, health status and preferences- each one is an individual and your veterinarian can offer the best proven options! And remember, cats are carnivores and must have some protein that’s of an animal source. Grain-free diets have yet to be scientifically proven to be optimal for your cat’s health and it seems intuitive so we hope those studies are forthcoming!
8. Treats: It’s important to positively reward good behavior (“good Callie, for jumping on your cat tree next to the kitchen counter…”) and repetition of immediate reward will help shape good manners. As with food, be sure the company that manufactures them has quality control measures to help ensure their safely. And be mindful of added calories in treats; make sure you know what your cat’s daily allotment is- somewhere in the range of 200-250 kcal per day for healthy adult cats- and find out just how many there are in those 15-20 Whisker-Lickens…
7. Toys: Interactive toys that allow a cat to express its normal prey behavior are terrific and also provide exercise. Fishing pole type toys, lasers that shine a dot on the floor and walls, and even battery-operated toys that move- some in response to a cat’s movement! Be sure to let your cat “catch” its prey periodically so it’s “rewarded” for its activity.
6. New dinner plate: Yes, as cute as those bowls with little fish painted inside, a flat dish or plate is preferred so their whiskers can remain straight while eating.
5. Water fountain: cats like the movement of water and, like us, can benefit by drinking more. Several companies offer water fountains specifically for cats. I keep looking for one that’s shaped like a toilet…
4. Cat tower or perches: Cats like to go to high places so providing them with vertical height outlets will give them their own “space.” Cat trees or towers come in a variety of designs so check on-line to see what your cat might like. Those which include sisal for scratching and hidey-areas can be very popular!
3. A cat-friendly carrier: Just search the internet on “how to get your cat in a carrier” and you will get 3,330,000 hits in 0.3 second. What’s important is to think like a cat. If it has two openings- front and top are best, if you provide soft bedding (that old fleece of yours is purr-fect- warm, soft and has the scent of “you”), if you keep it out, up and open and warm and let your cat use it as a hiding place (cats like to be off the floor, warm and have an “escape route” available), your cat will come to see its carrier as it’s friend and not run and hide when you bring it in from the garage to go for a car ride. For more information on choosing a carrier and training your cat to it, watch this video – “Cats and Carriers- Friends, not Foes.”
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2. Toys: Did I already mention toys?? Studies have shown that environment enrichment is critical for your cat’s health and well-being. So new toys, and rotating those they have, provide your cat with continual psychological stimulation. For more information on environment enrichment, visit the Indoor Pet Initiative from the Ohio State University.
1. The gift of good health! To ensure your cat lives a long, happy and enriched life, be sure your cat visits its veterinarian at least once a year- even if it seems perfectly fine! Cats give us so many gifts and we can give them the best quality of life “humanly” possible.

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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