Welcome to the Kitty Korner Archives!
MEDICATING YOUR CAT
As many cats get older, they require regular medications. As much as your cat hates taking medicine, you may dislike the rodeo that usually goes along with the task of getting it into your cat’s mouth. Here are some steps for medicating your cat that can hopefully be of use the next time the situation arises!
Tablets and capsules:
Some pill-forms of medication can be given with food (if you are unsure, ask your veterinarian!) If this is the case, start by trying to hide the pill in a “meatball” of food – canned food and cheese work well for this. Pill pockets are also available – a nice smelly treat designed to hold tablets and capsules. (Pick some up at our hospital and see if your cat likes them!) A lot of cats don’t fall for this trick very easily (most cats eat around the medicine and then spit it out) but it’s certainly worth a try!
If your cat just won’t fall for the meatball trick, you’re going to have to pill her. You will need to grab your cat by the cheekbones (if you are right handed, hold the cat’s head with your left hand, and vice-versa.) This manner of restraint does not hurt your cat and will give you better control of the animal. Tilt the cat’s head up slightly – this should cause her mouth to start opening. While holding the pill between your thumb and index finger, use your middle finger to pull down the lower jaw (put your finger over the front incisors to pull down the jaw, not the sharp fangs!) Once the mouth is open, put the pill as far back in your cat’s mouth as you can. Now shut the mouth & blow on the cat’s nose or stroke her throat to help stimulate swallowing. It is important to hold your cat’s mouth shut until you feel confident she has swallowed the medication. Once you feel her swallow, you can allow her to open her mouth & make sure she doesn’t spit out any pills! If she does, try again. If your cat becomes too upset – give her a break, then try again a little while later.
Pill guns are also available for administering capsules and tablets to your cat. Much like a syringe, there is a plunger that you use to launch the pill into the back of the cat’s mouth. The capsule or tablet is seated into the rubber opening at the end of the pill gun. You will need to hold your cat behind the jaw as previously described, but instead of using your finger to open the lower jaw, you will use the pill gun to pry down the jaw & get the rubber end containing the medication over the cat’s teeth. Now you can depress the plunger. Quickly withdraw the pill gun, shut your cat’s mouth and stroke her throat or blow on her nose to stimulate swallowing.
Sometimes, liquid medications are easier to give to an unhappy cat who just won’t be held down for more than 60 seconds (especially if you don’t have a helper!) If you find yourself struggling to get tablets or capsules into your cat’s mouth – talk to your veterinarian about having those medications compounded into a liquid suspension (many of them even get special chicken flavoring to make them more palatable for your cat.) To administer a liquid medication, start by having the medication ready to go in a syringe or dropper. Hold your cat firmly over the jaw with your non-dominant hand, and slightly tilt their head up. Now, using your dominant hand, use the syringe or dropper to move the top lip up and slide the dropper into the cheek space of your cat’s mouth. Now use the end of the dropper to gently pry the teeth apart. Once the dropper is between the teeth, “shoot” the medicine into your cat’s mouth. Allow your cat to swallow and watch her a moment to make sure she doesn’t spit all of it back out. Cats will inevitably drool when given liquid medications – this is normal! Just wipe off your cat’s chin & praise her for being a good participant. (Expect to see some lip smacking and funny faces too!)
- Whenever you give your cat any sort of medication (liquid or pill form) it is important to not raise their head too high. Only tilt their head slightly until you see their bottom jaw start to lower – then use your fingers or syringe to pull the mouth the rest of the way open.
- Always observe your cat for a minute or two after administering any medication. Watch for signs of choking (inability to breathe, gagging, forceful coughing, excessive drooling, or pawing at the mouth) or allergic reactions (vomiting, loss of bowel or bladder control, difficulty breathing or rapid/shallow breathing, pale gums, or swelling of the mouth and face.)
- If your cat is becoming upset or fractious (or if you are simply unable to administer a pill or liquid,) do not try and force her into taking the medication. Give her a break and call your prescribing veterinarian to discuss other options. (Medications can sometimes be compounded into a topical cream you rub onto your cat’s skin.)
- Time and technique are your best allies for successfully medicating your cat – find a routine that works, and go through the motions as quickly as possible each time.
- Always reward your cat for being cooperative (if you think it’s stressful, imagine how she feels about it!)
- If you don’t have a helper to hold your cat still for you – try tucking your cat under the arm you are using to hold her head with. You can also try wrapping your cat in a towel to help keep her from wiggling away. Some people kneel behind their cat with the cat tucked up against their knees and are fairly successful with this method.
Demonstrating how to give
subcutaneous fluids to your cat
Welcome to Uptown Cat Hospital’s Kitty Korner. We will be demonstrating how to give subcutaneous fluids to your cat.
Always start by placing a new, clean needle on the end of the fluid line. Start with the line clamped off at one of various clamps along the line. Uncap the needle and handle it with great care. It should not come into contact with ANYTHING before being inserted underneath your cat’s skin.
Tent the skin over your cat’s shoulder blades and puncture the skin with the needle to insert it into the subcutaneous space – this is the space between the skin and underlying muscle tissue.
Hold the needle in place with your other hand, unclamp the fluid line and squeeze the fluid bag, if needed, to cause the fluids to run through the line and into your cat’s subcutaneous space. When the prescribed amount of fluids have been administered, clamp off the line, pinch the skin around the needle with one hand and pull the needle carefully out with the other.
Recap the needle as soon as possible to avoid injury. You will want to pinch the skin where the needle was inserted for a few seconds to discourage fluid from leaking back out of your cat.
Pet Safety Tips
Did you know almost 40% of pet owners who are looking for a lost cat are looking for “indoor only” pets that somehow got outside? Accidents happen, but there are steps to take to make your pet as safe as possible, even in the event that they get away from you and become lost. The first step to finding your lost pet is to already have a plan in place! Here’s a quick checklist for keeping your pet safe beforesomething unexpected happens:
- Put ID tags on your pet (these should include the pet’s name, and a phone number and address.) Check your pet’s tags several times every year to make sure they are still in place and legible. Your pet should also wear an up-to-date license in compliance with the rules in your area. (Here in Albuquerque a license is required and can only be obtained once an animal is spayed/neutered, rabies vaccinated & microchipped.)
- Microchip your pet. Microchipping is quick, painless, and affordable. Microchips do not replace ID tags – they are an extra level of protection for your pet (and they are also required in many cities.) If a pet becomes lost, shelters or veterinary offices can scan your pet & obtain your contact information from a national database. Remember to keep contact information current any time you move or change phone numbers. Talk to a veterinarian about more information on microchips!
- Snap a photo. Always keep an updated, clear photo of your pet handy in case of an emergency. Photos can be used to make fliers, newspaper ads, and can be taken with you to local shelters or animal hospitals if you are searching for your cat.
- Keep a list of important contacts. Make a list of all the places and people you would contact as soon as you’re aware that your pet is missing (this list should include: local shelters and animal control, local rescue groups, your neighbors, your veterinarian and other nearby animal hospitals, and the company who made your pet’s microchip.)
- Have a plan of action. Already knowing what steps you will need to take if your pet goes missing is highly beneficial – not only is it a time saver, but it is also less nerve racking to know what steps you will take to bring your cat home.
Planning a happy reunion is easy! Here are some steps to take in the event your pet does go missing:
- Act ASAP – as soon as you know your cat is gone, set the plan in motion, follow through, and don’t panic!!
- Alert local organizations & agencies. Use your list of important contacts & start spreading the word that you are looking for your little one. Take a photo of your pet with you to local shelters in person (shelters take in so many animals each day that a brief description may not be enough.) Be persistent and visit the shelter regularly until your pet is found. Contact rescue groups (especially breed specific groups if you have a purebred animal.) If you believe your pet was stolen, contact local law enforcement to get in touch with a municipal animal control officer.
- Make fliers. Post signs anywhere you can think of, and anywhere that will let you. Around the neighborhood, animal shelters, veterinary hospitals, pet stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and anywhere else you think may have a lot of frequent foot traffic.
- A good flier should include the following: 1) A good, clear photo of your pet. 2) A large headline such as “LOST CAT.” 3) Pet’s name under the photo. 4) Additional information in an easy to read format – include the pet’s breed, color, last known location, and contact information.
- Spread the word. Let people know you are looking for your pet. Tell neighbors & give them a flier. Ask them to look in “hidey spots” like garages, under sheds or porches, and any other spot a scared feline might hunker down to try and find some safety.
- Go online. Lots of websites post lost and found pet information. Post your pet’s photo with your name and phone number, and check postings of recently found animals. Notify the company who makes your pet’s microchip – lots of them have a “lost pet network” that alerts other pet owners and veterinarians in your area to keep a lookout for lost animals.
- Advertise. Take an ad out in your local paper. Keep information clear & concise and try to include a clear photograph.
These steps are easy to take and could save valuable time if your pet should ever slip out the front door or get loose from a harness on an evening stroll. And remember, any time your pet goes missing, you should have them evaluated by a veterinarian upon their safe return. Dehydration, wounds, lacerations, and parasites are just a few of the dangers your pet can face when lost and alone in an unfamiliar place.
How to Combat Cat Boredom
Most cat owners agree that keeping your furry friend indoors is the best way to ensure their safety, but being inside all the time can lead to boredom. Boredom in cats can result in any number of problems, from behavioral issues to oversleeping and weight gain. Here are some tips for keeping your cats stimulated and enriched, even when living indoors!
- Outdoor enclosures are a safe way to let your cat explore the outdoors, without worrying about them getting out or other dangers getting into the yard. Enclosures are available in all sorts of sizes and designs, in practically every price range.
- Window shelves are a good alternative to outdoor enclosures if you live somewhere like an apartment, where there simply is not room to let your pet outside. Find a nice large window with lots of sunlight & sights (placing a bird feeder outside of the window creates an interesting view for your cat) to install a sturdy, comfortable perch.
- Cat furniture is a must-have for indoor kitties. Aside from giving them a place to sharpen and clean their claws, it gives them a fun obstacle course to play on throughout the day. Treats, toys, and catnip can be hidden inside of cat towers or inside of scratching posts to further entice your cat to scratch and play.
- Toys are essential for combating boredom. Take the time to experiment and find out what type of toys your cat likes, and then stock up! Keep several of your cat’s favorite kind of toy around & rotate them every so often. Interactive toys like laser pointers and fishing-rod type toys with dangling feathers are great for bonding time, but if your cat will be spending time alone, consider a puzzle toy (like the Smart Cat Peek-A-Prize) or work-for-treats toys that let you hide pieces of dry kibble to keep your cat working hard for treats.
- Harness and leash training can be an option if you really want to let your cat explore outside, but are still guarded about letting them out on their own. Harness and leash training can take a long time, but it’s not impossible. Remember to NEVER substitute a collar for the harness, and take plenty of time getting your cat used to the harness, then the leash, then being directed before taking your cat outside for a stroll.
- Housemates can keep each other entertained while humans are away. A new, young cat is a good way to help a young cat already in the home burn up energy and it’s also a good way to keep older cats moving. Some cats do well with dogs in the house. Others prefer to be alone. Get to know your cat’s personality and preferences before bringing a new addition into the home, and always remember to make introductions properly.
- Love and bonding time are important for keeping cats happy and satisfied as well. Some cats just want your attention. Whether it’s chasing the laser pointer, getting petted & scratched, brushed or just cozying up on the couch – your pet wants to spend time with you every day. Even two 10 minute sessions of bonding each day can do wonders for keeping your cat happy!
How to give your cat a pill using a pet-piller.
Your Cat’s Litter Box
Poor litter box maintenance is one of the most common reasons for improper elimination (cats using the bathroom outside of the litter box.) Unfortunately, cat owners not doing their part often contributes to and reinforces the frustrating behavior of litter avoidance and is a major contributing factor to cats being surrendered to shelters. If you hate the smell of the litter box, imagine how your pet feels! Cats’ sense of smell is MUCH more sensitive than us humans (14X as strong!) And as if the odor isn’t enough, we ask these poor kids to move around in their own waste just to relieve themselves. Imagine how horrendous it would be to only have a port-a-potty at your disposal that wasn’t being routinely emptied. You’d probably feel inclined to find a new, cleaner area to take care of your business too! Unfortunately, when felines look for a new, clean place to go, it often ends up being behind the couch, under the bed, hidden in a closet, or smack dab in the center of the living room. Automatic litter boxes that essentially clean themselves are popular & the majority of them have stellar reviews, but they are an expensive investment, and upkeep & refills can get pricey as well. Scooping litter the old fashioned way doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. Establishing a steady routine can help decrease odors, messes & frequency of improper elimination.
The number of cats in the home dictates how many litter boxes should be available. There should always be one box per cat in the home, with one extra available & even more if practical. Imagine living in a house with 4 other people and one teeny tiny bathroom for all of you – not only is it awkward, but it’s not exactly sanitary. Having several boxes in the house doesn’t necessarily mean spreading them out all over the house, either. It’s perfectly acceptable to set up more than one box near each other (plus it makes clean up a bit easier this way!) No matter how many boxes you have around your house, they should always be placed in a quiet, private place. Several types of litter are available. Experiment with different kinds – see what your cat likes & what’s easiest & most cost effective for you. (Note that kittens should be provided with non-clumping litter. Kittens have loose stool more often than not, and even more common is the tendency to walk right through it. Non-clumping litter won’t get cemented to the bottom of their feet or tail should they walk through loose stool & then through the litter.) No matter what type of litter you chose, a general recommendation is to fill the box until it is two to three inches deep. Of course, all cats are different – some prefer a deeper place to dig, and some hardly dig or bury their waste. Start with a little bit and add or subtract according to your cats preference.
As far as emptying the litter box goes – it should be scooped out twice a day at minimum, more if necessary. Add fresh litter to replace what is lost during scooping. Depending on the type of litter you use, how often you scoop, and the number of cats utilizing the boxes, they will need to be completely emptied and washed more or less often. Some people wash the litter box every week, some can go as long as 4 weeks without washing (bear in mind that non-clumping litter will need a full exchange more often than clumping – as often as every other day.) To wash the litter box, use mild detergent and warm water, then spray the box inside and out with a mild bleach solution (1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water is sufficient,) then allow it to air dry before rinsing and drying thoroughly. Disposal of urine, feces, and litter products is fairly simple. The easiest way is to dispose of the waste into a plastic bag, tie it off and toss it into your outdoor garbage can until trash day comes around. Some natural litter products can be flushed down the toilet during your daily scooping, but the entire contents of the litter box should never be put into the toilet. Large, locking bins are available for scooping into until full so you can take out one large bag of waste versus several small bags. Most of these commercial products have great reviews for how well they actually “lock in” odors and some are even quite stylish.
No matter what system you devise for your household, always bear in mind that it should be a compromise between what works best for you and what works best for your cats. Also, bear in mind that improper urination CAN be a sign that medical attention is needed. If your cat is continuing to use the bathroom outside the litter box, even after routine maintenance, a visit to your veterinarian may be warranted.
Grooming Your Cat
It’s no secret that cats are fastidious about their looks. Most cats clean themselves several times a day, and many of them do a great job on their own. Sometimes, however, our feline friends need a little help looking & feeling like the cat’s meow. Not only is a well kept coat an important part of your cat’s health & overall quality of life, but it’s a great way to bond with your animal as well. With enough patience & diligence, grooming time can turn into a fun, pleasurable activity for both you and kitty. Grooming is a broad term – hygiene for cats can be broken down into a few sections – hair coat, nails, teeth, eyes, and ears. Here we will discuss bathing and brushing. Ask your regular veterinarian about needs specific to your breed of cat (such as wiping eyes and skin folds.) Grooming needs also vary depending on the length of your cat’s coat. No matter what type of cat you have, or which grooming task you are taking on, make sure grooming time is a happy time for your pet. Aim to start grooming sessions when the cat is already feeling relaxed, maybe after playtime or breakfast. Use treats and praise (during and after) make grooming a time for bonding.
Generally speaking, baths are only necessary when kitty is especially dirty. However, getting your animal used to the sounds & sensations of running water & a soapy lather early in life will make everything go smoother for everyone involved during future baths. One way you can make your cat more comfortable is by placing a mat or towel in the sink/tub to provide some steadier footing. Always be sure to thoroughly rinse all the soap off your cat (he may lick it off & ingest it – something sure to cause stomach upset,) and ensure he is completely dry before exposing him to cool air (especially outside!) An alternative to submerging your cat in the bath are waterless shampoo & scented grooming wipes.
Brushing is necessary not only for eliminating dead hair & dirt, but also helps distribute the skin’s natural oils (responsible for that beautiful silky sheen.) For any hair length, always brush from the head to the tail in the direction that the hair grows, and be extra gentle around the face, chest & belly. Short hair cats should be brushed once a week – use your fingers or a wide tooth comb to loosen any dirt/debris from the hair, and finish with a soft bristly brush by smoothing the hair down. If your cat has medium-long hair, you will probably need to brush her every day to every few days. These hairs can reach 5 inches in length, an open invitation for mats & debris. Start with a wide tooth comb to loosen debris & tangles. Next, use a bristle or rubber brush to comb the hair upward, removing as much dead hair & dirt from the undercoat as possible. For the tail, make a part down the center and brush the fur out on either side. Finish with a pin or wire-bristled brush to smooth the hair. If your cat happens to have tight, dense mats in his fur, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian about removing them. Some mats get tangled way down next to the skin (this is very uncomfortable) and trying to cut them out with scissors can damage the cat’s skin. Some owners of long haired cats choose to have the fur clipped in order to avoid mats & loose hairs around the house – the lion cut is a popular choice (the cat is shaved except for the face, mane, tip of the tail, and the bottom of the legs & feet.)
Cautionary Cat Tales –
Things every cat owner should be aware of
This March we are raising awareness to make regular vet visits with your cat. They are often so self sufficient we forget that our cats need regular check ups too.
To reduce those emergency situations we have put together our list ofCautionary Cat Tales. These are items you need to be aware of and keep your cat away from.
- Potentially Toxic Plants
• People Food No Nos
• Common Household items
IS YOUR CAT TOO FLUFFY?
55% of cats in the US are an unhealthy weight – that’s 1 in 2. Think of it this way; 3 extra pounds on a 10 pound cat is the equivalent of 45 extra pounds for a 150 pound person. Still not convinced? A 15 pound cat is equal to a 218 pound 5’ 4” female or 254 pound 5’ 9” male. Now that’s heavy! Obesity can impact your cat’s quality of life in several ways.
Here are just a few:
– Diabetes (4 times as likely)
– Joint pain (7 times as likely) or lameness
– Liver disease
– Increased anesthetic & surgical risks
-Skin problems (inability to properly groom the hair coat)
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CAT IS TOO FAT?
Feel their ribs – start at the shoulders & work your way back, you should be able to feel & count all 13 ribs without extra pressure, but they also shouldn’t stick out. A defined waist should be identified behind the ribs when looking at your cat from above instead of looking flat and broad. The stomach should tuck up behind the ribs, not hang down to the floor when your cat is viewed from the side. Of course, nothing is substitute for an evaluation by your cat’s regular veterinarian. Next time you take your furry feline in, ask them about your cat’s body condition score (BCS). The BCS system is a way for veterinarians to gauge the overall healthy appearance of your pet & is rated on a scale of 1-9, with 1 being dangerously underweight or emaciated, and 9 being severely obese. Ideally, your pet should score a 5 – right in the middle.
HOW CAN I KEEP WEIGHT OFF MY CAT?
Play! The family dog isn’t the only one who needs exercise. While you may not readily strap your cat to a halter and leash to hit the streets (although some cat owners do!) there are ways to stimulate activity for your feline companion right at home. Laser pointers, dangling feathers, and shiny ball-type toys (perhaps with a small bell or some crinkly paper inside) are great ways to entice your fat cat out of his seat. Try playing a game of paper hockey with your cat by folding a piece of paper into a small triangle and sliding it across the floor to each other. Fishing for balls of wadded up newspaper in a laundry basket can also be great fun! If you only have one cat, consider adopting a younger companion. Kittens are a great way to keep older cats active! Another way to trick your kitty into moving around is by moving the food and water dishes. Tracking the food down through the house will provide kitty with some extra exercise. Try using treat balls with dry kibble or tasty treats – make your cat work for his reward! Place an extra cat tree in the home or clear off high shelves or the top of the refrigerator. Climbing and jumping helps burn calories and tone muscle. ALWAYS MEASURE. ¼ cup of dry food isn’t the same as “a small scoop.” Use an actual measuring cup, either from the grocery store, or ask your regular veterinarian or local pet supply store if they have any food measuring cups you can purchase. Make sure you are checking your cat’s weight regularly & follow feeding guidelines (which can be found on the outside of the food bag.) Even just a little extra food adds up to a lot of extra pounds. Pick the right food for your pet. Many formulas are available to suit the needs of almost every cat there is. If you’re unsure which food type is best, consult your veterinarian’s office for more information. Cut back. If it’s time for a diet, cut out the treats. Offer your cat smaller, more frequent meals to help him feel full throughout the day without grazing. Never starve your cat by skipping meals completely without being instructed to do so by a veterinarian (this can have serious side effects on your cat’s liver.) Track your pet’s weight gain and loss by keeping up with regular visits to your veterinarian, or buy a scale for your home (if the cat wont sit on your scale, hold the cat while weighing yourself, then subtract your own weight to find out how heavy the cat is.)Remember, rapid weight loss is never health, and may indicate serious health problems.
With winter in full swing, plenty of furry critters are looking for somewhere warm to cozy up. I’m not just talking about our beloved feline friends, either. I am referring to mice. A welcome addition to some families, most of us are overcome with a shrill “eek!!” when we see one of these animals making themselves comfortable around or in our homes. Rodent control is a serious concern, not only to the health of us humans, but to our feline companions as well. A popular product used to control rodent population is poison. Most of us are familiar with the little green pellets laid out in a small yellow box readily available at most any store, but did you know this poison can harm our feline friends, even if they haven’t directly ingested the pellets themselves? Cats who hunt mice are at a risk for toxicity, simply from consuming the body of a poisoned rodent.
d-CON, one of the popular baits used, is a vicious form of poison, called an anticoagulant rodenticide.
So how does rat poison work? Rat poison antagonizes (or works against) vitamin K, in turn disrupting the normal process of the blood’s ability to coagulate, or clot. After consumption, there is a latent or “waiting” period in which the animal’s body uses up all the available clotting factors before symptoms may be displayed.
What are the symptoms? Clinical signs generally include some form of hemorrhage, or bleeding. Some things you might observe can include depression or lethargy (tiredness,) loss of appetite (anorexia,) pale or bleeding gums, black, tarry, or “coffee grounds” appearance to the stool, blood in the front of the eyes, blood coming from the nostrils, coughing up blood, bloody vomit, urine, or feces, or bruising.
Is there treatment for rat poison toxicity? Vitamin K1 is antidotal for anticoagulant rodenticides. The vitamin is an injectable liquid, given subcutaneously (under the skin,) in several locations (to speed absorption) & with the smallest possible needle (to minimize additional bleeding.) After the first day of treatment, an oral form of Vitamin K can be used, usually twice a day for about a month, in any case of suspected toxicity.
How can you protect your cat? Try making your property less attractive to rodents by locating and sealing small holes that might offer access. Look under walls, between roofing tiles, water pipes, and ceiling eaves. Remember – any hole larger than the diameter of a pencil can provide entrance for a mouse. Don’t leave dirty cat (or dog) food bowls out. Place all animal foods in sealed containers. If you should find rodents near or in your home, consider non-toxic repellants or traps (everything from sticky glue traps to ultrasonic rodent deterrents are commercially available.) Any rodent carcasses you find (whether it is outdoors or a “gift” from one of your pet) should be disposed of well out of reach of your animals.
If you suspect your cat has consumed rat poison: Contact your regular veterinarian, local veterinary emergency hospital, or the Animal Poison Control Center hotline
Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Hyperthyroidism, or production of too much thyroid hormone, is a very common disease in older cats. The most common symptoms that send these aging kitties to a veterinarian include weight loss (usually in spite of a good appetite), increased drinking, increased urination, vomiting, diarrhea, and behavior changes. Your veterinarian may also hear a heart murmur, or even be able to feel an enlarged thyroid gland in the neck. If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, a small amount of blood will be taken to measure a thyroid hormone level, sometimes referred to as a “T4”
There are a few treatment options for cats diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. The most common treatment involves a medication called methimazole, which suppresses the production of hormones from the thyroid gland. It is usually effective and relatively inexpensive, but will be required for the life of your cat. If your cat does not take pills well, specialized compounding pharmacies can create flavored liquid or transdermal (applied directly to the skin and absorbed) formulations that may be easier to administer.
Another option for treating hyperthyroidism involves treatment with radioactive iodine. The radioactive iodine is absorbed by the thyroid gland, and then destroys the abnormal, over productive tissue.
Although this treatment may result in a cure for hyperthyroid kitties, there are significant initial costs. There is also a slight risk of becoming hypothyroid – damaging too much tissue, leading to too little thyroid production. Nevertheless, this treatment is generally highly effective, and can be performed at many specialized veterinary facilities.
New prescription diets are also available to restrict iodine, and assist in the regulation of thyroid hormone. There are reports of some cats being managed completely by diet alone, although most still require low doses of medication. If a prescription diet is being used, it is recommended that the cat eat ONLY the prescription diet (no other foods or treats) to get the maximum effect.
Although 99% of enlarged thyroid glands are benign (not cancer), there are rare cats (~1%) who will develop malignant (cancerous) thyroid tumors. In those cases, surgical removal of the abnormal thyroid tissue is recommended. Risks of surgery should be discussed with a veterinary surgeon prior to removal. Long term care and medication may still be required for these kitties post-operatively.
Hyperthyroidism is a very treatable disease, and with proper management, cats can live a long, normal life. Like any chronic disease, however, treatment is more effective when it is started early. Make sure to continue twice-a-year exams with your pets, and contact your veterinarian at the first signs of illness.
Vaccines and your cat
Vaccines are administered to prepare the body’s immune system to fight off a particular disease. The vaccine is created from a part of the organism–perhaps a bacterial protein, or maybe even a killed virus itself – that “tricks” the immune system into mounting a protective response, without risk of causing the original disease itself. Then, when the cat, dog, or human is actually exposed to the real disease-causing organism, the body is already prepared to respond. Ultimately, vaccines are given to either prevent infection completely, or reduce the severity and duration of disease symptoms.
It may be confusing to know exactly what shots your cat should receive. Most people do not want to put their cat through unnecessary stress, and though serious side effects of vaccination are uncommon, they can occur. The most common reactions are transient pain or swelling at the injection site, occasion stomach upset or loss of appetite, and lethargy/tiredness. These reactions come and go very quickly, and may not even be noticed. Rarely, more serious allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis , or a tumor called an injection-site sarcoma can occur post-vaccination.
Nevertheless, vaccination plays a very important role in preventative care and the health of your cat Here is a list of the most common vaccinations, and which cats should be receive them. One vaccine is a combination vaccine, often abbreviated as “FVRCP” or “RCP” This vaccine protects against the following conditions:
- Feline Panleukopenia (aka feline distemper, feline parvo): A highly contagious and usually deadly viral disease of cats. This virus lives easily in the environment, is resistant to extremes in temperature and humidity, and is resistant to many common disinfectants. This disease attacks the lining of the intestines, causing ulceration, diarrhea, dehydration and sepsis. It also causes a decrease in white blood cells, making it even harder for a cat to fight off disease.
- Feline Calicivirus/Herpesvirus : These viruses are responsible for over 80% of upper respiratory tract infections in cats. Most cats are exposed to one or both of these viruses in their lifetimes, and once infected, are generally carriers of the virus for long periods of time – maybe even for life! In periods of stress or other illness, these cats may have “flare ups” of disease. Common symptoms include conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, sneezing, ulceration of the mouth (calici), and ulceration of the cornea (eyes) with herpes. The currently available vaccines will minimize the severity of the upper respiratory infections.
The second vaccine recommended for all cats, and often required by law is the Rabies Virus Vaccine. Rabies is a deadly neurologic disease which is also a health risk to humans. Cats can be exposed to rabies through bites from wildlife, other cats or dogs in the area. Clinical signs include abnormal behavior (aggression, disorientation, and vocalization), seizures, paralysis, fever and hypersalivation. Death is expected within 7-10 days after signs begin.
Some vaccines are only recommended for cats with a certain lifestyle that puts them at a higher risk of exposure to certain diseases. Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is one of these vaccines.
Feline Leukemia Virus is the leading viral killer of cats. The virus is spread through a cat’s saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces and milk. It is commonly spread through bite wounds, and can be spread through casual contact between cats (grooming, etc) or from a mother cat to her kittens (before birth or while nursing) FeLV is a common cause of feline cancer, often causes blood disorders, and can damage a cat’s immune system. The individuals who should definitely receive this vaccine are outdoor cats, indoor/outdoor cats, and cats living in households with FeLV-positive cats. (Indoor-only cats have very little risk of contact with stray or infected cats, and do not necessarily need this vaccine every year.)
Other available vaccines include the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) vaccine, Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) vaccine, Chlamydia and Ringworm vaccines. These vaccines are not routinely administered, and all risks and benefits should be fully discussed with a veterinarian.
What is involved in a “declaw”?
“Declawing” is a procedure where the nail, and the bone it is attached to are surgically amputated. Many people have very strong opinions about declawing of cats, and it can be a very emotional decision.
Some areas of the USA and Europe have actually banned declawing, as it is considered cosmetic and not a medically necessary surgery. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners consider performing a declaw appropriate for cats that would otherwise be given up by their owners, or whose owners are immune-compromised, and a cat scratch could lead to serious illness.
Should all cats be declawed?
No, all cats do not need to be declawed. Young kittens and even older cats can be taught to scratch on appropriate objects, and not to destroy the furniture! Cats can have different likes and dislikes, so make sure to experiment with a variety of scratching posts – cardboard, carpet, wood, and other fabric can all be used. Some scratching posts even have catnip added, to make them more attractive!
Remember, bored cats tend to get more destructive. Make sure your cat has lots of toys, places to climb and hide, and enough stimulation to keep life interesting. (The Indoor Cat Initiative has additional articles and links –http://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats)
Furniture covers can protect the house, and claw covers (like Soft Paws –www.softpaws.com ) can be used to reduce damage as well. Trimming the nails will also be extremely helpful!
Which cats should be declawed, and when?
Younger, lighter cats (not your 10 year old, 17 lb couch potato!) will tend to heal faster. Kittens can be declawed at the same time as their spay/neuter procedure.
Remember, declawing should not be used in place of training your kitten!! However, approximately 5-7 million animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and unfortunately, 3-4 million are euthanized. If declawing your cat will give it a loving, forever home, than it is certainly better than the alternative!
Is declawing painful?
A declaw is essentially an amputation of the end of the toe, so without proper medication, it will be painful. However, at TLC Pet Hospital , your pet will receive a fentanyl patch (strong pain medication that is continuously absorbed by the body) as well as both local and general anesthesia.
What are the complications of declawing?
Most commonly, swelling or discomfort in the paws. Occasionally, bleeding at the declaw sites can occur. Rarely, cats can develop an infection. At our hospital, the incision sites will be closed with sutures to help prevent some of these issues. All declaw procedures are performed with sterile surgical instruments. The chance of leaving any boney tissue, or having the nail grow back, is extremely uncommon with current declaw methods. We will never perform a declaw with the “guillotine” style nail-clippers.
Although some individuals have reported that their cat’s personality changed, or that they developed litter box or other behavioral problems, no studies have found any evidence that links the declaw itself to these issues.
How do I take care of my cat after declaw?
Your cat may stay in the hospital for a few days post op, to make sure he or she is completely comfortable. Avoid rough play and jumping for about two weeks while the paws heal. If sutures are present, they can be removed in 10-14 days. Remember, a declawed cat should be indoor only! They will not be able to defend themselves as effectively.
The bottom line is, deciding to declaw can be a very difficult decision. Whatever decision you make about your cat or kitten, make sure you discuss all the available options with your veterinarian.
The Importance of Microchipping Your Cat
01/02/2012 -Cats – lovers, mouse hunters, couch-scratchers, cuddlers
Whether your cats enjoy some time in your yard or are strictly indoor cat-tree climbers, it it important to remember that they can get lost just as easily as our canine friends.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re trying to bring out the garbage and your kitty quickly slinks out the door behind you to help. Or maybe your cat didn’t come home last night and he wasn’t waiting at the door for you in the morning. These little guys can quickly become lost and sometimes are not easily found.
If your cat is picked up by one of Albuquerque’s animal welfare officers, the first thing that is done is to scan the animal for a microchip. If your cat is chipped, it would increase his or her chances significantly for a reunion with your family!
This is especially important for our indoor-only cats. When they accidentally slip away, they can easily become frightened and hide. This makes it difficult for not only their owners to find, but also our helpful animal welfare officers. Lost and scared cats can inadvertently travel miles from their home in only days. In this circumstance, if the kitty was chipped, it would increase the chances of a safe return significantly.
In regards to our kitties who enjoy outside sun soaks, they can wander off chasing all sorts of little critters. Well meaning neighbors can accidentally re-adopt your cat. They can also be brought to animal welfare and easily become lost in the system. If the kitty had a microchip, this tale would have a happy ending.
If you have any more questions about this, please feel free to ask any of our knowledgeable staff members. You can contact us directly or the following website has some additional information on why it is a good idea to microchip your cat.
Welcome to the May edition of Kitty Korner!
Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Although it may be tempting to allow your cats to roam outdoors as the weather gets warmer, these cats may be at a higher risk of two specific viruses.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are diseases that destroy a cat’s immune system, similar to the AIDS virus in humans. As these diseases progress, the cat becomes more susceptible to other viral, bacterial, fungal and protozoal infections that can range in severity from mild to life threatening. There are also higher rates of certain cancers in these cats.
FeLV and FIV are not transmitted to (or from!) humans or other animals. The most common forms of infection are from saliva and blood – e.g., bites and scratches from other cats! Pregnant and nursing queens (intact female cats) can also pass the virus to their kittens.
All cats/kittens should be tested after 8 weeks of age for FeLV and FIV prior to adoption and introduction into new homes (especially if those homes have other cats) This test takes less than 15 minutes to run in the hospital, and requires only a few drops of blood.
If an initial test come up ‘positive’, blood can be sent to a laboratory for additional tests that confirm infection. Infection is for life, but some cats live for years with these diseases, and have relatively normal quality of life. Obviously, these kitties need to stay indoors and isolated from any ‘negative’ kitties though!
The best method to prevent the spread of FeLV and FIV is avoidance – do not let your cat outside unsupervised! Although your cat may be sweet and loving with you, outdoor and roaming feral cats can get quite defensive about their territory! This leads to fights, bites, and potential infection.
Many cats will learn to tolerate leashes and harnesses, and can still visit the outdoors under close supervision! But, if your kitty is determined to be an independent outdoor kitty no matter what you try, there are a few other ways to reduce his or her risk. First, always spay or neuter your cat! Second, there is an effective vaccine against FeLV. All cats going outdoors unsupervised should receive this annual vaccine. However, there is currently no recommended vaccine against FIV, so risks will always be present, and yearly testing may be recommended by your veterinarian.
SPAYING OR NEUTERING YOUR CAT
It’s that time of year again the weather is warming up; the plants and trees are beginning to bloom; and a new generation of cats is born. Did you know that your kitty goes into heat and is able to become impregnated as early as six months of age? Did you also know that cats can have up to four or five litters of kittens per year? These facts are what contribute to that huge populations of cats, dogs, kittens, and puppies that flood the shelters every spring and summer. By spaying or neutering your kitty, you are helping to reduce the number of unwanted pets while promoting the health of your pet as well! Read on to see the benefits of spaying and neutering your kitty!
You will not be responsible for adopting out anywhere from 1 to 8 kittens. You will not be responsible for making sure mama kitty is feeding and taking care of her babies. You will never have to bottle feed the kitten mama might reject (which by the way requires you to feed every 3 to 4 hours 24 hours a day for weeks on end.) You won’t have to pay for three booster shots for each kitten mama births.
You actually decrease the chances your female kitty will develop mammary cancer and completely eliminate the chances she will develop uterine and/or ovarian cancer. For our boy kitties, you significantly decrease urological problems he may get from remaining intact.
If you ever lived with a cat, either male or female, that has been intact, you know that at this time of year they only have one thing on their mind – party! Cats want to wonder their neighborhoods, make friends, get into fights and yes, conceived baby kitties! Spaying and neutering your cat significantly decreases the urge to wander the neighborhood. It keeps your kitty in your house or in your yard where they belong.
No more spraying! Generally speaking, once a cat is altered, they no longer have a desire to mark everything both inside your house and out! Occasionally, cats that aren’t spayed or neutered until later in life may still spray in areas that they are particularly protective of.
Call us today to schedule an appointment to spay and/or neuter your pet!
Things You Should Know about Cat Adoption
Adopting a new pet can be very exciting for everyone in the family, but it can also be very stressful – especially for a cat! Although you may want your new kitty to be part of the family right away, it can take weeks or even months for a new pet to completely settle in.
It is very important to allow your new cat/kitten to have its own territory, and allow it to have safe areas to hide if it becomes overwhelmed. This can be as simple as letting a spare bedroom or bathroom become the “cat’s room!” Do not force a cat to socialize if it isn’t ready! Remember, your cat is definitely going to want a quiet, private area to use the litter box. Try to avoid placing the litter box in areas of the house with a lot of traffic, or areas where loud noises may startle the cat. This can lead to litter box aversion and other behavioral problems.
If you are bringing a cat into a home that already has cats or dogs, be very patient. Cats are not ‘pack animals’ like dogs and generally prefer to have their own space. Make sure to keep the new cat isolated from the other furry members of the household (this is where a spare bedroom or bathroom comes in handy again!) It is ideal if the pets cannot see each other at first, but can only hear/smell each other. As time goes on, the cats can start to see each other (but no physical contact). Once they are not reacting aggressively to seeing each other, they can have supervised contact. There is no predetermined amount of time that it will take for your cats to get along – it will depend on their ages, personalities, and many other factors. A certain amount of hissing is to be expected, but the goal is to go slow, and try to keep your previous pets’ routines as similar as possible!
NEVER leave your new cat and other pets together unsupervised until you know you can trust them 100%. It is never recommended to put animals together and just “let them work it out!” This will lead to larger amounts of stress on all the animals and a higher chance of injury as well. PetFinder (www.petfinder.com) has some excellent articles going into more details (Look for “Tips for Introducing Two Cats”).
Remember, especially if you plan on adopting a kitten, they will get into everything! Make sure to kitten-proof your home before bringing one home. Look on the ground, counters, and shelves for any dangerous objects. Breakable things that can be knocked off shelves, electrical cords, yarn/string that can be eaten, nooks and crannies that could get stuck in… these all need to be taken care of in advance. You will be surprised what your new pet manages to get into! Human OTC and prescription medications, certain foods (grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, chocolate, sorbitol-sweetened snacks or gum) can all be toxic to cats and dogs.
Cats will climb, and cats will scratch. This is normal behavior for a cat! Make sure there are scratching posts and safe, acceptable areas for your cat to play throughout the house. Some cats will prefer to scratch on carpeted objects, some on cardboard or wood. Make sure you have a variety of options for your new cat until you find out what he/she likes. Declawing is not always necessary.
Finally, all new pets should see a veterinarian as soon as possible after adoption. It is very common for pets coming out of shelters and breeding facilities to have upper respiratory infections that can spread to other pets in the household. All cats and kittens should be spayed or neutered, dewormed, and vaccinated as well.
June is Adopt-A-Cat Month. Enjoy your new additions!
Kitty Dental Care
Although most of us remember to brush our own teeth twice a day, and see the dentist regularly, it is easy to overlook our pet’s oral health until there is a problem. Cats are especially good at hiding problems of all kinds, so it is important as a cat owner to be aware of common conditions that affect the mouth.
Bad breath, difficulty chewing, drooling, weight loss, and swelling or pain around the mouth are all common signs of dental disease. Most tooth issues start with the buildup of plaque and tartar, which hardened debris caused by food residue, saliva, bacteria and mineral deposits in the mouth.
Some research has shown that more than 50% of adult cats will also be affected by ‘cavities’ (commonly called tooth resorption by your veterinarian.) If caught and treated early, these teeth can remain healthy for many years. If not, the tooth may become so damaged that it may need to be extracted so it no longer causes pain.
Cats are also commonly affected by gingivitis and/or stomatitis, which is inflammation (redness, swelling) of the gums and other tissues of the mouth. This condition can be caused by an overactive immune system, as well as dental problems, and may require medication and extraction of teeth to treat.
Other issues that are often treated by veterinarians involve fractured teeth, infected tooth roots, oral ulcers, and masses or tumors in the mouth. Because all these conditions should be detected and treated early, your cat’s physical exam should always include oral examination. Routine dental cleaning under anesthesia is recommended as soon as any signs of dental disease are noticed. A dental cleaning from your veterinarian uses the same tools that your personal dentist uses to remove all that plaque and tartar that accumulates over time!
Remember, the best way to keep teeth healthy is to brush regularly! When your cat is a kitten, you can get him/her used to brushing. Soft, specially formulated toothbrushes are available for cats, and so are flavored pet-safe toothpastes. (Remember, NEVER use human toothpastes! They are not meant to be swallowed.) First, get your cat used to having its face touched and its lip lifted up. Once he or she is comfortable with that step, try rubbing a little toothpaste onto the teeth/gums with your finger. Be patient and go slow! Prescription dental foods, water additives, treats and toys all exist to help prevent tartar buildup as well, but nothing will ever be better than brushing! Find a routine that your kitty likes, and stick with it!