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Mismatched Metabolisms: The Case of “Big Boy” and “Miss Princess”

Oct 24, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

“But Doc, how can I get ‘Big Boy’ to lose weight when ‘Miss Princess’ needs extra food to maintain her weight?!” I get this question often. Of course the names have been changed to protect the innocent, but it is a common problem. What to do, what to do…

There are several ways to approach this problem of mismatched metabolisms, but the bottom line is that you have to do something different than what you have been doing. Sorry- it is just not working. Keep it up, and Big Boy may be seeing his veterinarian more often for diabetes management and other maladies. I will try to give you some simple practical advice. Of course, it is your job to carry it out, so chose a method that will work on a daily basis for your household.

Step one: consult your veterinarian for nutritional advice. This includes not only what to feed, but how much.  It is likely that if you are not already feeding a large percentage of canned food as the diet, your veterinarian will recommend doing so. Canned food is lower in carbohydrates than dry and is much better for combating and preventing obesity in cats. (See The Skinny on Fattening Foods).

Step two: make a plan that works in your household. It is critical that the entire family agrees to the plan and that the plan be as easy as possible. You will most likely need to measure how much you are feeding. Having small, easy to use measuring scoops (if you are feeding dry food) makes it easier. In our house, we use a metal 1/8th cup scoop. It’s hard to cheat using one of these.  If several people feed the cats, measure out the daily food allowance into a container (or separate containers) and have family members feed from this. Once it’s gone, no refills until the next day!

Step Three: Follow up at regular intervals on an accurate scale. Most bathroom scales will not be accurate enough to detect small changes (less than 1 lb.). I recommend that you bring your cat to your veterinarian to be weighed or that you purchase an infant scale to use at home (these are readily available on line). I recommend weighing every 4 weeks initially. Not every cat fits the average profile. When I first put my chubby cat on a diet, he actually gained weight! The poor guy has a low metabolism, so we had to adjust his daily intake. Conversely, we don’t want our cats to lose weight too quickly.

What about Miss Princess?

The simple fact is that with Big Boy in the house, you can no longer provide the free access “all day buffet”.  Here are some options along with pointers:

  1. Continue the “all day buffet” for Miss Princess and feed Big Boy separately. Some clients find an area that the bigger cat cannot reach. This might be a high surface or small access area. You can get creative with more technical solutions, including indoor invisible fencing to keep Big Boy out of the buffet room or a coded magnet on Miss Princess’s collar that will open a cat door to allow access to a room or crate/carrier with her food (magnetic collar and matching door available on line).
  2. Gradually transition all cats to meal feeding and feed them separately. Two to three meals a day works well for most cats. This is best done by first removing the food at night. Next, remove it for a few hours during the middle of the day then gradually make this period longer. Nighttime may be more difficult, if your cats wake you up asking for food, but be strong!
  3. If your veterinarian recommends a reduced calorie diet and you cannot feed different foods, in most cases it is easier to feed for the cat that needs to lose weight and then supplement the lighter cat as needed. Big Boy is eating more to begin with, so the change in food will affect him more than Miss Princess.
  4. Treats are not “free”! If you give your cats treats or table food on a daily basis, discuss this with your veterinarian. These calories add up over time and can de-rail a diet in no time. On average, one extra tablespoon of dry food every day for 1 year will put on 1 lb. of weight.
  5. Exercise is always helpful in any weight loss program – both mentally and physically. Make your cat work for his food. Have him chase the laser light to find a hidden bowl of food. If you are feeding dry food, give it to your cat in a “food toy” so he has to work to get it and eat slowly. This will be fun for you too!
  6. Slow weight loss is critical in cats. Small changes over time will be successful. Rapid, severe weight loss in cats can cause serious illness.  Be consistent and know that you are helping your cat be happier and healthier in the long run.

Good luck and be strong!

 

Dr Diana Lafer

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

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

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

Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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Food Recalls

Oct 20, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion

In 2007, a large food recall took place as a result of melamine contamination. Both dogs and cats were affected. This raised a safety concern about pet food that has not been helped by ten reports of national food recalls from March 2009 to March 2010. In the month of March 2010, there were more than 45 recalls of human food products with Salmonella as a common inciting cause.  Now, there are many people who wish to home cook for their cats.

Other safety issues I hear are artificial preservatives, colors, and flavoring. Many fear that food additives play a role in cancer incidence, allergies or autoimmune disorders. The FDA governs the use of these additives and evaluates them for safety. “Who trusts the government?” is the response I hear to my assurances.

The desire to home cook for your cat is deserving of a measured response, one that reflects the complexity of cooking for a carnivore and the difficulty of uncovering adequate information about many products.

Food preferences in the cat are both instinctive and acquired. Taste receptors in cats are specialized for eating meat. Kittens acquire taste preferences from exposure to flavors transmitted in the uterus and in milk. They also learn appropriate food choices from their mother. These include food texture and odor as well as taste.

The balance of vitamins and minerals must be balanced correctly. In a study of home-prepared diets calcium-phosphorus ratios, Vitamin A and E levels along with potassium, copper and zinc were inadequate. Everyone has good intentions but not always a good outcome.

As long as you work with a veterinary nutritionist, there is minimal risk. You must follow all the ingredient and additive instructions to the letter. Many veterinary nutritionists are available for phone consultation and are able to analyze individual diets for nutritional adequacy. That does not guarantee that the flavor, texture or odor will be acceptable to your cat, however. Serious illness can result when a cat refuses to eat. Make sure your beloved companion likes the food well enough to take in adequate calories for the longterm which may require multiple foods to avoid monotony.

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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Litter Mates – Can’t We All Get Along?

Oct 16, 2012 by     14 Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Reader Question:

“I have two litter mates that are 2 years old.  They get along great.  My previous cats were also littermates, and got along famously until they were 3.  Then the fighting started and lasted over 15 years.  Why did this happen and what can I do to prevent it?”

I am sorry to hear that you had fighting between your last pair of cats.  Thank you for your question and trying to prevent the problem for the 2 kitties you have now.

Cats who like eachotherFirst, for the record, adopting siblings together is a great idea.  They are already bonded together, and they have similar energy levels so that they can play as much as they wish.  People often ask which is best to get, males or females.  Both are great, but there is information to suggest that 2 males are best together, followed by a male and female, and lastly 2 females.  This is of course a general statement and I personally have seen 2 females, Cleo and Sheba, get along well for the 20 years that they were together!

There are some steps that we can take to provide the pair with the best situation, but unfortunately, there are other situations that we may not have control over.  For example, I saw one pair of female cats that were so affectionate together until they were 11 years old; at that age, one of the cats saw a strange cat sitting outside a window and screamed.  The sibling came running to see what was the matter, and a case of redirected aggression occurred – the cat that saw the strange cat attacked her sibling since she couldn’t get at the cat outdoors.  For the rest of their lives, they avoided and even hissed at each other.  Other examples of situations we cannot avoid are often a loud noise outside or something else that frightens one of the cats that we have no control over  – and often it happens when we aren’t present to recognize what caused the problem.

Sometimes kittens that have been best buddies will prefer not to be together (or at least as much) when they reach social maturity, which in cats is between 2-4 years of age.  Providing separate cat beds and more than one place to perch will allow them to have their own space, and choose when to be together with the other.

In addition, reward them for any positive interactions together.   Never force the cats to be together or look at each other because that will only backfire!  And I can tell you from my own experience early on that pampering a cat that “gets picked on” can reinforce that cat to act the victim so that they can get the attention.  Once, I came home early from work because I was sick.  I saw my cats sleeping together.  As soon as they saw me, they hissed at each other and went their different directions!  From that day forward, I ignored the one when she acted like the victim, and rewarded any positive interactions, and they became best buds.

Do your cats get along?  If not, questions are welcome.

 

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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The Fur is Flying! Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!

Oct 14, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Does your cat go into a shedding frenzy whenever he gets into his carrier or arrives at the vet’s office? Ever wonder what was creating that tidal wave of loose hair?

We joke at my practice that by the end of a day’s appointments we could literally create another cat just by using all that discarded hair! Sometimes so much fur comes off these cats that their owners worry that there might be a problem, especially if they don’t normally see a lot of shedding at home.

Who’d ever think that this reaction is related to cutting-edge science? That massive, all-at-once hair shed is based on the same reaction that creates sweaty foot pads in our nervous felines. This is similar to when our own hands get clammy in response to scary or stressful events like speaking in public or opening a letter from the IRS.

Adrenaline is what makes this particular reaction happen, and this nervous system hormone, which is responsible for the body’s pronounced response to fear and danger, has been in the news recently (and not just in use during the Presidential debates!).

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded this year to two scientists who did groundbreaking work on how receptor cells receive and transmit information about compounds like adrenaline and histamine. This has enormous impact on the development of medications, but it also can give us some insight into why those compounds cause the reactions that they do.

One of the reactions that adrenaline can produce is the release of hair from follicles that are in the resting or dormant stage of their cycle. These are generally the older hairs that are in the process of being replaced through shedding. Shedding is usually a gradual and ongoing process but during an adrenaline-fueled reaction, these dormant hairs get suddenly released, resulting in our cats looking like they are at risk of becoming bald.

Adrenaline has many strange effects on hair follicles. In fact, one of the more curious occurrences we see can happen during tornados. Chickens exposed to the winds and atmospheric changes associated with those storms can literally be plucked clean. The strong winds are thought to scare the chickens and result in a classic “fight or flight” response. All feathers, which are the bird equivalent of hair, loosen and come off, leaving a completely naked bird.

Happily, nothing on this level occurs when our cats get stressed or fearful. But the amount of hair that comes off can still be pretty impressive!

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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Take Me Along

Oct 5, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

I love traveling with my cats, but my Sphynx cat, affectionately referred to as “Naked”, gets car sick within minutes of starting a car ride. I thought I’d share what I do to try to keep Velvet from vomiting and almost always defecating during the trip.

  1. I try my best to make sure she hasn’t eaten for 6 -8 hours prior to her being placed in her cat carrier.
  2. About 30 minutes before she goes in her carrier I give her ½ of a .25mg alprazolam tablet along with ¼ of a tablet of Cerenia. The alprazolam is to keep her calm and the Cerenia is to stop nausea. I always make sure I follow the medication with a little water to help make sure the medication reaches her stomach quickly and doesn’t irritate her esophagus as she is swallowing.

If this doesn’t work for a cat of yours that gets motion sickness, consider having your veterinarian prescribe acepromazine. It is also given about 30 minutes before traveling and is a great sedative. Your cat’s third eyelid will likely show and your cat might look pretty loopy, so don’t be surprised when your notice an unfamiliar facial expression on your cat when the medication is in your cat’s system.

Another option is to give Dramamine which you can purchase at your local pharmacy. A typical 10 pound cat should get ¼ – ½ of a 50mg tablet. It should also make you cat drowsy. Meclizine (Bonine) is another over the counter motion sickness medication that is doses at 12.5mg per 10 pound cat. For really severe car sickness you can add in a little Cerenia.

Try these medications when you have an opportunity to take a short car ride so you can test dosing and drug combinations. Your veterinarian is your best source when deciding which drugs to use since he or she will know your cat best.

Whichever drugs you use, make sure you are prepared when traveling with a cat that gets motion sickness. I always keep a harness on my cat when she is in her carrier in case a clean-up is needed. I attach a leash before she is allowed out or her carrier that is always lined with an absorbable puppy pad before my trip commences. I have waterless soap for me and even keep disposable exam gloves in my car. Disposable wipes like Clorox wipes work well to clean the carrier and of course, I keep plastic bags in the car as well for storing soiled puppy pads and used wipes until I find an available trash can.

Yes, it takes preparation and patience if you decide to travel with a cat that gets sick in the car, but it is well worth it when you reach your destination and your trip is made that much more enjoyable by having your cat along!

Dr Diane Eigner

Diane Eigner graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1980. Dr. Eigner established her exclusively feline practice, The Cat Doctor, in Philadelphia in 1983, and began offering house call services at the Jersey Shore in 1991. She is a past president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School Alumni Society, a Past President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and is a member of the advisory board of Harcum Junior College’s Veterinary Technical School. Diane has been the consulting veterinarian for the Morris Animal Refuge since 1983. Doctor Eigner’s column “Ask The Cat Doctor” appeared in the Cat Fancier’s Almanac from 1996-2000. Diane joined the Catalyst Council’s board as the American Association of Feline Practitioner’s representative in 2009. She is now serving as the immediate past-chair of the Catalyst Council.

An avid Sailor, Diane loves nothing better than to be at the Jersey shore where she keeps her sailboat, Purrfect, and where she has a second home. Since meeting her husband, Fred Turoff, Temple University’s Men’s gymnastics team head coach, her family life has been dominated by men’s gymnastics. Her son Evan is a level ten gymnast that competes nationally and will join her husband’s division I men’s gymnastics team in the fall.. Diane also shares her life with three very entertaining cats. Though she shouldn’t have a favorite, her Sphynx cat, Velvet, which she rescued at the shelter where she consults, is the cat love of her life. Her integrated home also includes a Welsh Corgi named Twinks, two Cornish Rex cats, Naui and Padi and a Russian Tortoise.

The Cat Doctor
535 North 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Phone: (215) 561-7668
Fax: (215) 561-3616
Email: meow@thecatdr.com

Website: http://www.thecatdr.com
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Law of survival – Why Cat’s Don’t Cry in Pain

Sep 30, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Pain is a basic sensation, an indicator of physical distress. To a small animal in the wild, the exhibition of pain can be life threatening-an indication of weakness which could make it the target of a predator. This pain-hiding survival skill remains even though most of our beloved cats have moved inside. As a result, it is not easy to answer the question, “Is my cat in pain?”

For example, an owner may be surprised when an oral exam reveals significant dental disease, even though their cat is still eating well and has not lost weight . Nevertheless, when the doctor gently touches a tooth with an explorer, the kitty’s teeth begin to chatter, indicating pain. Owners wonder how could they have not known. Two components of feline behavior make pain assessment subtle.

Your cat lives in the present- another survival skill. In a cat’s mind: This is how I am today. This the norm. Your cat does not know that this is a new situation. It accepts the present and moves on. It does not remember less pain one month or one year ago. In addition, your cat more commonly shows pain via behavioral changes and less frequently by crying out. If it hurts to do something, your cat will try to stop doing that activity.

As your cat ages, arthritis may develop. The subsequent loss of mobility and stiffness build gradually. Your cat adapts by changing its lifestyle. You might interpret the changes as benign effects of old age, but they may be caused by pain.

To judge if your cat is in pain, look for behavioral changes such as the following:

  • decreased grooming behavior which could be due to a loose tooth or other mouth discomfort, or due to difficulty bending to groom along its back;
  • defecation outside the box which may be due to discomfort in hips and knees when trying to maintain the defecation posture or feeling unstable on a smooth litter box surface;
  • getting cranky or snapping during your grooming or petting sessions which may be due to inadvertently increasing pressure over tender joints or sore teeth;
  • increased time sleeping on the bed which may be due to general discomfort; and
  • becoming a loner as a new behavior which may be the result of the instinct to withdraw to avoid both physical pain and predation.

Chronic pain is neither something that a cat must learn to accept, nor is it only found in older cats. Dental disease can occur at any age. A previous injury or congenital abnormality may cause arthritis to develop early in a your cat’s life. A thorough examination by your veterinarian will reveal any physical signs of pain. These findings in conjunction with your observations regarding behavioral changes will help the doctor to fully assess the situation and make treatment recommendations. Oral pain can usually be resolved with professional dental care and follow-up home treatment. Arthritis can be managed in many ways. Your doctor can tailor a pain management program that will be best for your cat. It is possible to minimize pain in your cat’s life.

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? The laundry basket isn’t my toilet?

Sep 26, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Inappropriate elimination (urinating and/or defecating outside the litter box) is one of the most common behavior issues for which veterinarians are consulted.  It also is one of the number one reasons why cats are relinquished by owners to a shelter.

Causes for inappropriate elimination are numerous and include- preference or aversion for certain types of litter boxes, location of the box, and litter substrates. Other causes include litter cleanliness issues, aversion secondary to a painful or stressful event, and inadequate access either caused by physical inabilities or aggressor cats in the household.

Inappropriate elimination should not be confused with urine spraying, though in some cases urine spraying can be present in addition to inappropriate elimination issues.

Initially there may be physical problems associated with the inappropriate elimination; therefore, a urinalysis should be performed in all cases and sometimes fecal testing is required.  In some cases blood work to screen for diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism should be performed.

Once underlying disease is ruled out or addressed, appropriate changes need to be made regarding the environment.  These may consist of moving the box to a new location, addition of a new box, removing the hood or any liners, offering a different type of litter, addressing actual care and cleaning of the box, and addressing stressors in the environment such as bully cats, remodeling or other changes to the environment, new animals or people to the household, etc.

In the majority of cases hoods and liners should be removed.  Hoods trap odor in the box and also provide limited access in and out of the box which can be perceived as a risk in the multi cat household.  Most cats prefer unscented litters and litters that are soft.  However, some cats prefer one substrate for urination and a different one for defecation.  Clues can be gained by observing what surfaces the cat gravitates towards for urination/defecation within the house.

The box(es) should be scooped at least once daily and the litter should be completely changed and the box washed every week to 2 weeks.  The litter boxes should be placed in quiet, less trafficked areas of the house.  Laundry rooms (a common location for boxes) are usually noisy and more heavily trafficked so often they are not a good location. A good rule of thumb is one box per cat group plus one – where a group is one or more cats that like each other.  So, if there are 3 cats in the house, and only two like each other, there should be 3 boxes.  These should be placed in multiple locations throughout the house, on different levels in multi-level houses, and away from food and water sources.

Changes may need to be made in the environment such as adding additional cat trees or vertical spaces for cats to improve social interaction in multi-cat households. Clients may need to experiment with the depth of the litter as well.  Older cats often have difficulty with deeper litter due to arthritis and boxes with higher sides can make access difficult.

If there are complex interactions between cats in the household, Feliway diffusers, collars with bells on the aggressor cats, or even medication may be needed.

Your veterinarian will take a thorough history and will usually want a schematic of the house that includes areas where your cat is inappropriately urinating or defecating, where the cat or cats spend most of their time sleeping, and locations of food, water, and the boxes.  In addition, a history of care of the box, interactions between cats in the household, and any changes in the environment will be discussed.  Medical issues will be ruled out and changes made based on lab findings and history.

Because of the complex and multi-factorial causes surrounding inappropriate elimination these cases can be difficult to diagnose and often require several changes to rectify the situation. The longer the behavior is left unchecked, the more difficult it can be to correct. As always, your veterinarian is the best resource when dealing with inappropriate elimination issues.

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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The SKINNY on FATTENING Food

Sep 22, 2012 by     15 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Obesity is the most common health problem in our pet cats. One of the reasons is the TYPE of food being fed, not necessarily the number of calories. Cats are desert creatures and are true carnivores. In nature, cats eat mice, birds, reptiles, and bugs to build a healthy diet. Dogs and people are omnivores, meat and plant eaters.

Cats are unable to properly digest carbohydrates. Most dry foods have high carbohydrate levels due to the grain that is required to form the product.

A young healthy cat should be eating a diet similar to his wild cousins – one that is high in protein, high in fats, and low in carbohydrates. A mouse is composed of about 40-45% protein, 40-45% fat, and only 3-5% carbohydrates.

High carbohydrate diets may cause obesity and health problems.

Carbohydrates cause overproduction of insulin, increased hunger, and weight gain. There are health concerns related to this weight gain, not the least of which is diabetes. A cat with a high carbohydrate diet often has a flakey coat (some owners think this is dandruff) or some may be greasy. Overweight cats often are not able to groom as well, sometimes culminating in poor bathroom grooming behaviors. Weight can affect your cat’s joints causing them to forgo jumping, or they may be less willing to play.  It is not uncommon to have an obese cat newly diagnosed with diabetes who can be converted to a non-diabetic state just by altering the diet. The key is to significantly decrease the carbohydrate content in their diet and begin a slow weight loss program.

Cats are desert creatures and in nature derive a large portion of their water from the food they eat.

Canned food has a much higher water content than dry food. Cats should be encouraged to drink fresh water daily, with the use of kitty fountains or running water taps, to properly dilute their urine.

There is little evidence to suggest that dry food plays a significant role in maintaining oral health.

The research suggesting that dry food is better for oral health was done on dogs, not cats. A cat’s jaw does not go side-to-side as a person’s would, so there can be no true chewing. Cats use their teeth in the wild to catch and tear their food, and in the process mechanically clean their teeth. The food pieces are then swallowed whole.  Commercial dry kibble is throat sized, so our domestic cats have little opportunity to rip and tear into their food!

Canned foods have much lower levels of carbohydrates because they lack the grain needed to process the dry kibble. There are many good commercial brands of canned foods available. If your cat does not like canned food, there are a few brands of dry kibble that are lower in carbohydrates.

During your cat’s physical exam pre-existing medical conditions, sex, breed, and age are evaluated to allow us to make specific diet recommendations for your cat.

MYTH BUSTERS – Canned food is NOT fattening. Most brands of dry kibble do NOT help the teeth.

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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Cat Got Your Tongue? – Some Like it Rough

Sep 15, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

A wet, sloppy kiss from a dog can be like a gentle, warm embrace, but when our cats get friendly and try grooming us, the sensation is decidedly different!

Why do cat tongues feel so rough and harsh?  My three cats love to lick, and when they get going, it can feel almost like they are scraping through the skin.  You have to admire their commitment to keeping mom clean and well-groomed, but a little of that kind of licking goes a long way!

The reason our cats have such abrasive tongues is because the tops of their tongues are covered in tiny barbs.  These backwards-pointing hooks help carry food or whatever our cats are eating down the throat and into the stomach.   All members of the feline family, from big tigers to tiny domestic short hairs, have barbs on their tongues.  And although I’ve never been licked by a lion or tiger, I’d imagine the sensation would be size-appropriate and significantly amplified.    The skin scouring this would cause might make a big cat assume that there is more than one way to skin a human!

One other function of those barbs on our cats’s tongues is to help with grooming and keeping their coats tidy.  Cats are incredibly fastidious—it’s not unusual for your cat to spend upwards of one third of their waking hours grooming and keeping themselves clean.  In fact, if cats have fleas or lice or other parasites of the skin, they actually can consume a very large percentage through that meticulous grooming, which means that even if your cat has fleas, it can be difficult to find one!

Cats who have allergies are often itchy, and they sometimes lick excessively to try and relieve that itch.  The barbs on the tongue can literally shave hair off—sometimes it seems as though your cat can become bald overnight—and your plush feline can suddenly start resembling an action hero with three-day stubble.

We’re all familiar with hairballs, and the reason cats can have problems with them is that when they groom themselves (or their other cat buddies!), the barbs on their tongue snag the hair and physically move it down to the back of the throat, where the hair gets swallowed and transported into the stomach.  Depending on how much hair gets ingested and how irritating it is in the stomach, a cat might hack it up as the oh-so-familiar hairball, or the hair can pass through the other end via defecation.

The barbs on a cat’s tongue are formed by keratin, which is a fibrous protein structure that is present in skin, hair and nails.  Keratin is very tough, and that is why a cat’s tongue feels so rough—the barbs hold their shape when rubbed against something, much like a fingernail does.  Keratin is one of the strongest substances in the animal kingdom, and just like your own fingernails, those barbs on your cat’s tongue will never get dull or soften over time.

Another interesting tongue tidbit is that the barbs might play a role in whether a cat likes a certain food or not.  The shape of food affects how the tongue reacts to it, and that is why dry cat foods come in so many different shapes and forms.  Some cats like rounded shapes, while others seem to prefer more squared edges.  With wet food, some cats prefer the sloppier textured foods, and others seem more drawn to the pate varieties.  Cats use their tongue to pick up foods, and the barbs affect how the food sits on the tongue.

Barbed and ready for action, the fascinating and unique cat tongue is just one other reason why our favorite species is so special!

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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How do Indoor Cats Get Worms? And Can They Get Worms from Eating Flies?

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

That is a great question from one of our readers.

I have 3 indoor cats and live on the 8tth floor of a high rise. Do I worry about them getting worms?  I take the proper precautions to make sure that they do not get parasites. They are currently on a monthly topical preventative.  However, Indoor cats can get parasites from insects. The insects can run across their food or the cats can eat them. These insects can have the parasite eggs on their legs. Some insects or other animals such as snails can be vectors for parasites.  In other words, the parasites live part of their life cycle in these animals.

I have a very responsible client who has a cat that got lungworms in suburban Virginia.  He responded beautifully from deworming. He came to us coughing and looking like he was going was on death’s door.  He had lost 2 pounds.  His radiographs looked like either asthma or cancer.  It was terrible. Fortunately, he responded beautifully to 10 days of Panacur, deworming.  He is normal with no coughing after treatment.

Parasites have developed great survival strategies. Over millions of years they have worked on these sneaky mechanisms of survival.  The Companion Parasites Animal Council (CAPC) has great recommendations on how to protect yourself and your family. They recommend twice yearly deworming for indoor only cats.

These parasites could potentially infect your children, BUT with proper easy deworming this can be easily prevented.  A relationship with your veterinarian is your first defense.  As veterinarians we are here to help you tailor your cat’s medical needs to you and your cat’s lifestyle.

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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