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Cats and the Holidays

Dec 24, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior, Tips & Advice

Last year, I wrote a long list of holiday tips for cats: On the First Day of ChristmasOn the Second DayOn the Third Day, and On the Fourth. This year, I thought I would write about family at the holidays. We know our cats and their habits, both good and bad. We know what foods they love, what foods they love but can’t stomach, and what foods they hate. We know all about toxic plants, holiday dangers, and normal household items that are a specific danger for our cat (plastic bag chewers, string and ribbon eaters, Styrofoam peanut chompers…).

However, during the holidays we often open our homes to our families, friends and neighbors to celebrate whichever winter festivity we choose to honor together. These visitors to our homes don’t always know the ins and outs of cats, so make sure to keep your eyes open for possible problems.

One of the best examples of this is our dear friend, Shady. He is a huge, handsome F1 generation Savannah cat (50% Serval). He is 14 years old and loves his family, and loves to play! He also loves to play with children’s toys. By “play”, I really mean “chew into little bits”. Sometimes, the little bits pass right through him, but 6 times in the last 3 years, he has become quite ill after a large chunk of toy has gotten stuck in his digestive tract. Four of those times, he has had to have surgery to remove the toy part.

Before you think poorly of his family for allowing him access to these toys, I have to tell you that each time he got a toy, he had foiled their attempts to hide them from him. Among other mischievous behaviors, he broke into their son’s toy box, and chewed through a wooden cupboard door in order to get at the toys. Eventually, the family got rid of all of the particular type of toy that Shady liked to eat.

This is where family and the holidays come into play…The son’s grandmother felt bad for the owner’s son that he no longer seemed to have any of his favorite toys around, so she brought him a present that contained a bunch of the little rubbery toys that the family had thrown away. The son was overjoyed, and so was Shady. Within two days of Grandma’s visit, he was showing the classic signs of illness that his owner knew meant he had eaten a toy. At his appointment, his x-rays showed the toy was still in his stomach – he could still vomit the toy back up, or it might try to pass through the intestines. Since Shady had just had a toy removed a month prior, his owner elected to watch him. He appeared to be stable and eating and within a few days, he vomited up the toy. Lucky Shady had avoided surgery – this time.

After that incident, Shady’s owners considered getting rid of Grandma, but ultimately decided that was not a good idea. Instead, they had a long discussion with her about the types of toys that she buys for their son, and it has been (knock on wood) over 6 months since we last saw Shady with signs of vomiting and dehydration.

Although he certainly isn’t the only cat that has been in a situation like this, we often use Shady’s story as a teaching tool for clients about cats that are persistent in their unhealthy behaviors, and the importance of making sure that everyone in the household knows significant health facts about the pets in the home – both family members that live in the house, and people that visit regularly.

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


Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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