Tagged with " parasites"

Parasites and the Inside Cat: Why it Makes Sense

Mar 17, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

My three cats never leave the house, and it was easy for me to assume that they couldn’t possibly get infected with parasites, because how would they get exposed?  I am ashamed to admit it, but my own preventive parasite control routine with my boys was less than ideal.

That changed the day I diagnosed my best friend’s inside cat with heartworm disease.  I felt a little less than professionally competent when I thought about the number of times I’d been bothered by mosquitos inside my own house, and then realized that any one of those mosquitos might have been carrying heartworm disease.  Why in the world did I think that inside cats were magically immune?

Cats today might not eat off a silver spoon, but they generally lead much more pampered and comfortable lives than their ancestors ever imagined.  Gone are the days of fighting to survive!  Our cats are so far removed from the daily struggle to find food and avoid enemies that it’s easy to think that they have nothing to worry about.
But are they really safe?

Parasites are everywhere, and entire melting pots of potential pathogens, including parasites, can and do reside quite happily inside and on our treasured house cats.  Our challenge is that even though we know that life rarely exists in an impermeable and sterile bubble, the concept of parasite control for an inside cat is not intuitively natural.  For many of us, we simply don’t think that the element of risk is enough of an actual threat to take action.  Even when we know that some of the common and preventable parasitic diseases can be transmitted to people, we still resist using preventives.

I’m just like anyone else, and if I can’t see something physically, like a jumping flea or a worm in my cat’s poop, it makes it more difficult to believe that it exists.  Human nature?  Who knows?  And doubly crazy when I know just as well as anyone else that there are many problems that are effectively invisible, like a high cholesterol level.

Preventive medicine is a time-honored concept.  It is the philosophical backbone behind the use of vaccines, and maybe closer to home, it is the support for wearing a seatbelt when we take the car out and brushing our teeth to prevent decay.  For some parasitic diseases—like heartworm disease—the risk of one exposure can be death.  For others, exposure is more of a nuisance or irritation.

Many cats have very fluid lifestyles—they might spend most of their time indoors, but occasionally sun themselves on the back porch, or they live with animal housemates who go outdoors, or they go outside when their owners vacation at the beach cottage.  And there are true indoor-only house cats who love to kill and consume bugs.  Insects can be transmission agents for some of the more common intestinal parasites, so it makes perfect sense to do yearly fecal checks on indoor cats along with broad-spectrum parasite control.  Anyone who’s been plagued by a buzzing mosquito or housefly knows how easily flying insects can gain access to even the most well-secured house. Heated, humidified homes can also be terrific breeding grounds for fleas, as well as a place of refuge for flea-carrying rodents.  Ever get mice in your house?  We do, and our cats think it is party time.  Beyond fleas, mice can carry other parasites that can infect your cat.

How else can our indoor cats get exposed to parasites?  Just think about what happens when we’re doing yard work or gardening and then come inside.  Shoes, gloves and clothes covered in contaminants fresh from the parasite reservoir that exists in most suburban yards are now in perfect position to inadvertently expose our feline friends.  My cats like nothing better than to rub all over my sneakers—the smellier and dirtier the better—and take in the spoils of the great outdoors.
As veterinarians, we are concerned about the welfare of our feline patients.  Cats are enormously important to their families, and provide tangible health and happiness benefits.  It seems the least we can do is to implement safe and effective preventive healthcare measures that take into account the cat’s unique role and special needs.  Parasite control is an integral part of any wellness program, and year-round preventive use makes complete sense for today’s cat.

I don’t ever want to say to another friend, “Sorry, I just didn’t think he was going to get infected, so it seemed silly to give him a preventive.”

If you’re interested in the down and dirty of parasites and your cat, the Companion Animal Parasite Council has excellent information on its website, www.petsandparasites.org.

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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Poop Kentucky Derby

Mar 24, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Personal Opinion

Ever wonder why your cat sprints out of the litter box after voiding or even around the house out of the blue?

Cats have different types of behaviors, but certainly play behaviors are one of the most interesting.  Different play behaviors will begin as early as 2 weeks of age. Chasing type behaviors manifest around 5 weeks of age and serve to improve hunting skills, social interactions with other cats and general exercise.

Most owners have seen their cats sprint around the house as if they are chasing or being chased by another cat with their pupils dilated and perhaps even pausing to yowl or chortle.

This type of behavior is termed “hallucinatory” behavior and often occurs immediately after your cat urinates or defecates.  There are different theories as to why the behavior occurs upon exiting the box, including a feeling of well being and increased energy after evacuation, a sense of empowerment after creating their characteristic scent, or a reminder of natural instincts requiring leaving the scene and scent behind quickly to prevent being preyed upon.

However, sometimes the behavior can be associated with dislike of the box size or location, dislike of the type of litter, fear of attack by other cats in the household, pain associated with urination or defecation or sometimes fecal matter adhering to the hair after defecation.

If your cat spends at least 15-20 seconds scratching or burying in the box, chances are they are happy with their litter.  Cats that have pain on urination or defecation will often times vocalize in a distressed manner and may urinate or defecate outside the box as well.   Occasionally small drops of blood may even be seen. Inappropriate elimination, (urinating or defecating in locations other than the box), will also tend to occur if the box is not clean enough, or if there is fear of another cat in the household. Long haired or overweight cats that have trouble removing fecal matter during or after defecation may rush out of the box and then stop suddenly and begin grooming the perineal area or scooting to remove the fecal matter.

Regular veterinary exams and laboratory evaluations can help rule out pain secondary to arthritis, gastrointestinal problems such as parasites or inflammatory bowel diseases, urinary disorders and even behavior problems within the household.

Keeping your cat healthy and fit will improve activity and provide years of fun for the whole family watching these fast and furious felines as they “run for the roses”.

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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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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Help me, There’s a Ringing in my Ears!

Aug 14, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

A recent report out of Georgia where participants hooked up cameras around the necks of 60 cats and permitted them to roam showed that 44% (around 27) of them hunted. Now this is not especially surprising since that’s normal cat behavior, and we know that even the best-intended families can have their felines occasionally take a “walk on the wild side.” But this report underscores that it’s even more important to keep your cat healthy! Besides the deadly rabies virus found across the US (including a rabid bat on my front steps…), there are other diseases and problems which your cat could bring home in addition to the creatures which included lizards, snakes and frogs (41% of the hunters’ prey), chipmunks and vols (25 %), insects and worms (20 %) and, less frequently, birds (which represented only 12 % of the prey of the hunting cats).

What can you do?

  1. Keep your cat’s indoor environment enriched with cat trees, perches, interactive toys and food puzzles.
  2. If you do allow your cat outdoors, ensure that it’s supervised on a harness and lead or in an enclosure.
  3. Make sure your cat has complete identification including a collar with ID tags (and a bell if you think it may warn prey) AND permanent ID in the form of a microchip. Think your cat won’t keep a collar on? Scientific reports show that most cats will.
  4. For the health of your pets and your family, make sure your cat is on year-round parasite prevention. Even if your cat NEVER escapes, pesky parasites like fleas and ticks and the diseases they transmit can hitch a ride indoors on (or inside) other pets, people or a variety of critters. Flies, worms and crickets could be the secret passageway for parasitic or other problems. And remember, over-the-counter topical medications do not treat or prevent heartworms, hookworms and roundworms, and the latter two can cause devastating human illness! Visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council for more information, including a map of parasite disease incidence.
  5. Celebrate Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian Week with Petfinders.com and tips from CAT Stanley of the CATalyst Council and call your veterinarian today to make an appointment for your cats! Your veterinarian will tell you what’s the best food for your cat (and how much!), what vaccinations are needed for your cat’s lifestyle, and tailor a parasite prevention program specific for your cat to help keep it -and your family- healthy and safe. And while your cat may not have ringing in its ears, ear infections are common as are other often unrecognized problems like dental disease, diabetes or kidney disease. By taking your cat to your veterinarian regularly for preventive health care, other conditions can be detected earlier to help with better outcomes.

If you need help finding a feline veterinarian in your area, visit the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ web site at www.catvets.com.

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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Don’t Let Those Bed Bugs Bite!

Aug 11, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Is there anything more disgusting than bed bugs?  Just the thought of those diabolical creatures, crawling around in our beds and making meals of our blood while we’re asleep is enough to give anyone nightmares!

Bed bugs are very much in the public eye right now, and there are several parts of the country experiencing epidemic-level problems.  Those tiny nocturnal pests are difficult to eliminate, and people can unwittingly carry them into their homes through contaminated bedding materials or furnishings that are infested with the bugs.  Because they are so hard to identify, it can be relatively simple to carry bed bugs from location to location.  Hotels are, unfortunately, a perfect opportunity for these wily creatures to hitch a ride into new homes through luggage or clothing.

Bed bugs prefer human blood, but most species will feed on cats and other animals, which is of course a concern for us cat lovers!

Happily, though, this is one area where cats really have an advantage over us humans.  As a cat vet who is concerned about the level of protection our cats receive against parasites and heartworm disease, I always recommend that all cats receive monthly preventive treatments with anti-parasite products that have effectiveness against fleas, intestinal parasites and heartworm disease.  These topical products will also protect against bed bugs, so those furry companions in our beds—if they’re properly protected– should be safer than we are!

Bed bugs are exceedingly nasty but they don’t actually live on people or animals.  They are what are called periodic parasites, which means they make frequent trips to their hosts to feed but they actually live away from their hosts (in this case, bed bugs live in bedding, clothing, etc).  Another interesting—and possibly reassuring—fact about bed bugs is that even though they take many blood meals, it does not appear as though they transmit any diseases to people.  People frequently get reactions from bed bug bites, much like many of us do with mosquito bites, but those welts generally subside over time.

So…the best protection for your cat from the scourge of bed bugs is to protect your cat against fleas, intestinal parasites and heartworms.  It’s a win-win!

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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Oh No! FLEAS!!!

Jun 20, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Though I really love warm weather, I feel a bit of foreboding associated with consistently warm weather because inevitably, a caring cat owner wanting to provide parasite prevention will apply a flea control product meant for dogs on their cat, not realizing how dangerous this can be. Because cats and dogs metabolize medications differently, an ingredient that a dog tolerates with no issue could prove disastrous–potentially even fatal– for a cat. Not only should you never use a flea product formulated for a dog on your cat, but you should be sure to prevent contact between treated dogs and their feline friends until the medication has absorbed.

Another mistake seen all too often is the “more is better” approach that some people take when using flea products. More is NOT better when it comes to chemicals or medications! Always follow the package instructions, and contact a veterinarian if the product does not seem to be working. There is evidence that some flea products have less efficacy than others, so it might be that you need to try a different product, but you should first seek the advice of a professional to make sure it’s safe to apply.

My advice? Discuss parasite control with your veterinarian since he or she knows your cat and can make individual recommendations based on risk. And, veterinarian prescribed products have the benefit of being supported by the companies that manufacture them, so should your cat have a reaction to the product prescribed, the manufacturer will likely cover any veterinary costs associated with any necessary treatment.  Whatever product you choose to use to provide parasite control, make sure you keep the product insert and directions handy should your cat have a reaction and take that insert with you to the veterinary hospital if your cat needs care.  Fortunately, reactions to today’s well-researched flea and parasite control products are rare.

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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Vomiting in Cats: How Much is Normal?

May 21, 2011 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Elyse Kent

Dr. Elyse Kent graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and completed an Internship at West Los Angeles Veterinary Medical Group in 1981.

In her early years in practice, Dr. Kent began to see a need for a separate medical facility just for cats, where fear and stress would be reduced for feline patients. In 1985, in a former home in Santa Monica, Dr. Kent opened the only exclusively feline veterinary clinic in Los Angeles, Westside Hospital for Cats (WHFC). Along with other forward-thinking feline practitioners from across North America, Dr. Kent founded the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1991. Through the efforts of these practitioners, feline medicine and surgery became a certifiable species specialty through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Dr. Kent became board certified in Feline Practice in the first group to sit for the Feline exam in 1995. She certified for an additional ten (10) years in 2005. There are now 78 feline specialists in the world. Dr. Kent served as the Feline Regent and Officer on the Council of Regents for 9 years. She is currently the immediate Past President of the ABVP, which certifies all species specialists. She also heads up a task force joining certain efforts of the ABVP with The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). She currently serves as a Director on the Executive Board of The American Association of Feline Practitioners.

The present day WHFC facility opened in 2000. It was the fulfillment of a vision for a spacious, delightful, state of the art, full service cat medical center that Dr. Kent had dreamed of and planned for over many years.

Westside Hospital for Cats
2317 Cotner Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Phone: 310-479-2428

Website: http://www.westsidehospitalforcats.com/
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