Tagged with " licking"

Cats, houseplants and grass – why does my cat get the munchies?

Apr 14, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior

Cats always seem to want what they are not supposed to have – and houseplants are no exception. Cats are carnivores- why would they want to nibble on your spider plant or the lovely flowers your significant other just gave you?

In the wild, cats eat many small meals consisting of rodents, birds, bugs, and other small creatures. Most of these prey animals have intestines full or seeds, grains, and other vegetation. Cats enjoy eating the intestinal tract (yum!!!) and consequently about 10% of their calories come from non- meat sources. So, cats can digest some plant material. Cats also need some non-digestible fiber in their diet to help with normal stool production.

Cats, like infants and toddlers, often investigate things by chewing on them. New plants or flower arrangements are loaded with intriguing new smells. Your cat will chew on them in part to get more information, and also to test them out as a food source. Cats have an interesting organ called the vomeronasal organ on the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. It is in essence a “super nose”. Cats may wrinkle their upper lips, start nibbling an item, and get interesting smells to that organ. Some cats love the texture of certain plants and will chew on them for fun. Cats that are either highly intelligent and need to check everything out, or cats that are bored and have nothing to do are more likely to chew on plants. Younger cats are also more likely to chew on both plants and other stringy items such as cell phone charger cords and ribbons.

Some people think that cats chew on grass to make themselves vomit. As far as we know, cats are not bulimic! However, cats do often vomit after chewing on grass and other fibrous plants. This may have evolved as a means of reducing parasite numbers in the intestinal tract. Cats that are feeling nauseated may be more likely to chew on fibrous plant material. Some cats do develop pica, which is eating non -food type materials. This can occur from anemia. Anemic cats are low in iron, and they may eat soil or cat litter due to their bodies attempt to get more iron to correct the anemia. Some cats need more oral stimulation and chewing on plant material fulfills that need.

Try offering safe plant materials. Commercial pots of cat grass are available such as “Kitty greens”, or home made versions can be grown using grass seed and potting soil. Spider plants are also safe for cats to nibble on.

The biggest worry we have with cats eating plants or flowers are lilies. Nibbling even a small amount of the leaves or petals can cause severe kidney failure and death in cats. Keep lilies out of your house if you have cats! If your cat does eat or have any contact with lilies, call your veterinarian immediately. Rapid medical intervention may save your cat’s life.

Many cats find potting soil a lovely form of cat litter, and may enjoy digging in and even eliminating in your houseplant pots. You can make the soil less attractive by placing screen door mesh over the soil (cut to allow room for the plant). Your cat cannot dig in the soil, but water will easily pass through. You can also use gravel on top of the potting soil to make the texture less attractive to your cat.

Don’t forget about catnip! One-half to two- thirds of cats enjoy catnip “recreationally”. Nepetalactone is the chemical that causes the rolling around, licking, drooling, and mild sedation in cats. Some cats will get hyperactive or aggressive especially if they ingest larger amounts, and some cats are not affected by the nepetalactone. Many people grow catnip for their cats as a safe option for their plant snacking cats. Bon appetit!

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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Scratching the Surface of Allergies in Cats

Aug 29, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Humans aren’t alone in suffering from allergies.  Cats get allergies too, and their allergies can cause a variety of symptoms.  In humans, allergies typically cause signs such as coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes.  Cats usually react to allergies by suffering from excessive itching, leading to scratching, licking, rubbing, or biting themselves, resulting in hair loss, and damaged irritated skin.

Even though skin problems are most commonly seen, the problem is more than skin deep.  Allergies can also cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract, causing vomiting and or diarrhea, and can damage the lungs, in some cats, leading to asthma.

Our immune system is constantly being bombarded by, and protects us from, challenges present in our environment. An allergic reaction occurs when a normally harmless substance, called an allergen, causes an abnormal and excessive immune response which leads to inflammation. Allergens can be anything from A to Z in the world including pollens from trees, grass or weeds, molds, dust and dust mites, saliva from flea and other insect bites, foods, wool, etc. Finding out what your cat may be allergic to can be problematic, and often impossible.

For those cats suffering from skin allergy, this inflammatory reaction can cause itching, which then causes scratching which causes more itching, and so on. This itch-scratch cycle can cause incredible discomfort, decreased quality of life for your cat, and keep you up at night with the sounds of scratching, and licking.

If you suspect that your cat has allergies, consult your veterinarian.  Some cats have seasonal allergies, while other exhibits symptoms of their allergy year round.  Other causes of skin problems need to be ruled out, and can be dependent on where you live. These can include ringworm, skin mites, internal diseases, and cancer.

Diagnosis and treatment can be difficult because of the complex interactions of the cat’s immune system with the environment.  Removal of different substances from their surroundings can be tried, or observing the response to prescribed medications can be undertaken.  Some of these medications are safer than others, and will vary from case to case. In some cases, allergy testing can be performed to try to determine what specific allergens are at fault.

Unfortunately, even though there are different treatment options available to make your cat more comfortable, please know that allergic diseases are managed and not cured. When left untreated, allergies can have negative effects on your cat’s comfort and quality of life, and can become more difficult to treat as time passes. The lesson here is simple – treat early and don’t let itching and scratching get under your and your cat’s skin.  >^..^<

Dr Robert Marrazzo

Fellow, American Association of Feline Practitioners Owner and Founder of The Cat Hospital at Palm Harbor Throughout his life Dr. Marrazzo has had, and continues to develop a growing passion and love for cats, as well as an appreciation of their unique nature. He has dedicated his professional career to their care, and to learning more about them. After graduating from Cornell University, he attended the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, where he was mentored by Dr. Michael Schaer. He received his degree as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988, and was awarded the Phi Theta Kappa Award for academic excellence in veterinary medicine and surgery.

After graduation, he actively sought out positions and externships that allowed him to work with leaders in the field of veterinary medicine. He has practiced in both internal medicine, and neurology / neurosurgery practices, and also has an extensive background in emergency medicine and surgery, and critical care.

He is an active supporter in local, state and national feline organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association, The American Animal Hospital Association, Cornell Feline Health Center, The Veterinary Laser Surgical Society, and the American Veterinary Dental Society. He is most proud of his long affiliation with the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and currently serves on the Executive Board of that organization. He is active locally having volunteered at the Humane Society, and is a Past-President of the Pinellas Animal Foundation. He has been a regular contributor to Ask-A-Vet newspaper column, Healthy Cat Journal, and the Eastlake Heron.

Dr. Marrazzo enjoys continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences across the country each year focusing on the latest advancements in feline medicine and surgery. He also enjoys being an educator, not only for his client’s, but he also is currently an Adjunct Professor of Veterinary Medical Technology at St. Petersburg College, where he has discovered a new passion – teaching veterinary emergency and critical care to veterinary technician students.

He is very proud and excited that his two children, Christopher and Kimberly, are pursuing careers in veterinary medicine! He is allowed to share his home with four cats, Al, Gus, Bean, and Lefty, who lost his left ear in a car engine as a stray.

Dr. Marrazzo loves the outdoors and nature. He is an avid bicycle rider, enjoys kayaking, boating, reading mystery novels, and has special interests in history and archeology.

The Cat Hospital at Palm Harbor
2501 Alternate 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL 34683

Phone: (727) 785-2287
Fax: (727)785-2887
Email: staff@wespeakmeow.com

Website: http://www.bobcatdvm.com/
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