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Ringworm

Not Really a Worm At All
Ringworm, technically called dermatophytosis or dermatomycosis, is a skin condition that can be transmitted between people...

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Not Really a Worm At All
Ringworm, technically called dermatophytosis or dermatomycosis, is a skin condition that can be transmitted between people and pets. It is caused by one of several kinds of microscopic fungal organisms. The disease gets its confusing name from the fact that a common symptom in people is the appearance of a reddish ring on the skin which was once thought to be cause by a worm.

Ringworm in Pets
Ringworm fungi can infect dogs, cats, rabbits, farm animals, and other mammals. Pets with ringworm often have areas of hair loss. The skin in these areas may become crusty or scaly, and the hair breaks off easily. The lesions increase in size quickly and can spread over the entire body. However, some infected animals, especially cats, do not show any symptoms at all.

Ringworm is diagnosed by the appearance of the lesions, plus the results of one or more tests. Some types of ringworm will glow under ultraviolet light. Hairs or a skin scraping from the affected area can be examined under the microscope to look for the fungal organisms. The most sensitive test is culturing; hairs are applied to a growth media and observed for development of the ringworm fungus.

Mild cases of ringworm can be treated with topical antifungal creams. Sometimes it is beneficial to shave the affected area prior to application of the medication. Antifungal shampoos and dips are also available. In more severe cases, hair is shaved from the entire body of the pet and repeated shampoos or dips are performed. Oral medication may also be prescribed in these more serious cases. A ringworm vaccine is available for cats but is not helpful in all cases your veterinarian can advise you whether it would be of benefit.

Ringworm in People
A telltale ring-like marking on the skin is the most common sign of ringworm in people. Lesions can be seen on the skin or on the scalp. In people, the disease is also called tinea. Most people recover quickly from this condition, especially with treatment.

Ringworm in people is mainly diagnosed by the appearance of the lesions, but a skin scraping may be performed to confirm the disease.

Most human cases of ringworm are treated with a simple antifungal cream applied to the lesion. Keeping the skin clean and dry is also helpful. Because people are not as hairy as pets, the condition is more easily treated in humans, and most people recover within a few weeks. People who are properly applying antifungal medication are generally not considered contagious during treatment. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, it is usually OK to go to school or work.

Preventing the Spread of Ringworm
Ringworm is highly contagious. The fungus produces spores on the skin or hair these tiny spores can fall off and survive in the environment for long periods of time. People and pets may be exposed to the spores by contact with other people, pets, or soil. Ringworm can be spread by objects such as brushes, combs, unwashed clothing, and in showers and pools.

People most commonly get ringworm from other people. Avoid sharing brushes, combs, or clothing. Wear sandals when using public showers. Keep your skin and hair clean and dry.

Animals can also be an important source of infection. Avoid handling stray animals showing signs of ringworm. Pets with signs of ringworm should be seen by the veterinarian, tested, and treated. During treatment, minimize handling of the animal and keep it separate from other pets. Infected pets can be contagious even after the obvious symptoms have resolved, so it is important to use medications for the full duration prescribed and see your veterinarian for follow-up testing. Some animals, most commonly cats, can be carriers of ringworm without showing symptoms. If you become infected with ringworm and the source of infection is unknown, your doctor may recommend having your pets tested.

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Spaying Your Cat

Spaying, or ovariohysterectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for cats. Here are some important facts...

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Spaying, or ovariohysterectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for cats. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your cat spayed.

The Spay Surgery
The ovariohysterectomy is an abdominal surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your cats belly will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made a few inches below her belly-button. The veterinarian will remove both ovaries as well as the uterus. Several layers of stitches will close the incision internally. Your veterinarian may also close the skin with stitches, or may use a surgical adhesive. Following spay surgery, your cat will no longer go through heat cycles and will be unable to get pregnant.

Although the spay surgery is very routine, it is still a major abdominal operation. It carries the risks normally associated with general anesthesia and surgery. Your veterinarian takes numerous measures to keep your cat safe, such as checking her heart and lungs before administering anesthesia and monitoring her constantly while she is asleep. You can ask whether your veterinarian recommends any additional safety precautions, such as pre-anesthetic blood tests or administration of IV fluids during the procedure.

Benefits
Unspayed female cats usually go through three heat periods each year. During her heat period, your female cat may drip blood. She will also make every effort to sneak out to find a mate. As a result, she is at high risk for being hit by a car.

Unspayed female cats suffer from a high incidence of mammary tumors, false pregnancies, uterine infections, and reproductive cancers. Spaying your cat greatly reduces the risks of these cancers. It has been said that it may be beneficial to let your cat produce one litter of kittens before she is spayed; however, this is not at all necessary.

The final benefit of spaying is that its the best way you can help end pet overpopulation. Every year, 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. None of us wants to contribute to that sad statistic, but we may do so unwittingly. Cats adopted to apparently good homes may be given away or lost.

Considerations Before Surgery
Consult with your veterinarian about when to schedule your cats spay surgery. Traditionally, pets are spayed at around six months of age. However, some veterinarians advocate performing the procedure earlier. If possible, schedule your cats surgery when she is not in heat.

The night before your cats surgery, remove her food and water before you go to bed. She should not eat or drink anything during the night or the morning of her surgery.

Considerations After Surgery
Your cat may go home the day of her surgery, or may stay in the hospital overnight. If she goes home the same day, expect her to feel a little groggy. Keep her indoors, in a warm, safe, quiet room away from other pets. During the first week after surgery, try to restrict her activity level. Mild swelling and soreness are common, but let your veterinarian know if you see any discharge or if the swelling is excessive. It is very important to keep the litter box very clean for your cat following surgery.

If your cat was in heat when she was spayed, she will continue to attract males during this time. Keep her away from male cats during her recovery so that she isnt accidentally injured. Stitches, if present, will need to be removed in about 10-14 days. If you have any concerns about your cat following her surgery, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian.

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Tritrichomonas foetus

There are numerous parasites and pathogenic organisms that can infect cats. Tritrichomonas foetus, while traditionally recognized as a parasite that...

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There are numerous parasites and pathogenic organisms that can infect cats. Tritrichomonas foetus, while traditionally recognized as a parasite that causes reproductive harm in cattle, has been added to the list of potential causes of diarrhea in our feline companions. Cats kept in groups, such as in breeding catteries and shelters, are especially susceptible to Tritrichomonas. The parasite is spread through a fecal to oral transmission route, so cats who share litter boxes can pick up the organisms on their feet and ingest them while grooming. It can remain viable and infectious for up to three days in fecal material, and it is resistant to drugs typically used to treat diarrhea caused by similar organisms.

Tritrichomonas foetus is microscopic; thus, it will not be visible in the stools of infected cats to the unaided eye. It is a flagellated protozoan, a single-celled organism that is able to propel itself by the use of whip-like appendages called flagella. These organisms may be mistaken under the microscope for Giardia, a similar parasite common in pets. When misidentified and treated with traditional anti-protozoan drugs, the diarrhea caused by the parasite will persist or only temporarily improve.

The symptoms associated with Tritrichomonas typically occur within days of infection; however, some cats may be silent carriers of the parasite, exhibiting no symptoms at all. They can be reservoirs of infection for subsequently exposed cats. Large bowel colitis, characterized by bloody diarrhea with mucous, is the typical presenting symptom. Affected cats are usually generally healthy, alert and active, with the only signs of illness being the presence of anal redness or swelling, and painful defecation. Involuntary dribbling of feces may be present. Vomiting does not usually accompany T. foetus infections.

Tritrichomonas is suspected in any case of feline diarrhea that is refractory to treatment. There are several methods of testing for the parasite available to the veterinarian. It is important to screen all cats with diarrhea for Tritrichomonas if T. foetus is initially suspected. Screening involves testing a fresh stool sample for visual confirmation of the motile flagellates under the microscope. This test is called a direct smear, and must be performed in-house, because the protozoa will quickly desiccate and become unidentifiable at the reference laboratory. The parasite may be missed altogether if the fecal sample is too dilute or if there are very low numbers of the organisms.

The stool can also be cultured for Tritrichomonas. A specially designed culture bag called the InPouchTF can be used to grow and increase the numbers of the parasites until they can be identified under the microscope.

There is also a DNA test available to confirm the presence of Tritrichomonas in feces. This is called a PCR test or Polymerase Chain Reaction test. While it is the most sensitive test available, it is also relatively expensive and requires a larger amount of fresh stool to analyze. It is not widely available and must be run at a specially equipped reference lab. The PCR test is usually reserved for patients that are highly suspected of T. foetus infection, but all other testing has been inconclusive.

The treatment for Tritrichomonas involves the off-label use of a poultry antibiotic called ronidazole. It is not approved by the FDA for use in cats; therefore, it must be compounded at a pharmacy into a capsule at a dose suitable for a feline patient. Because of its very unpalatable taste, it is unlikely to be compounded into a chewable or liquid oral form. Ronidazole has the potential for neurotoxicity; so, it should only be used on cats that have been confirmed positive for T. foetus. Owners must wear gloves when handling the drug. It is given once daily for two weeks, after which the diarrhea should be resolved. It is recommended that a PCR test be used at the end of treatment to confirm the total eradication of the parasites.

It should be noted that clinical remission of diarrhea has been shown to occur in many infected cats, usually by 2 years of age, even if they are not treated.

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Cat Scratch Fever

Cat Scratch Fever is not just a rock song from the 70s; it is a real disease. More properly called Cat Scratch Disease, it is the name of a condition in humans caused by the bacterium, Bartonella...

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Cat Scratch Fever is not just a rock song from the 70s; it is a real disease. More properly called Cat Scratch Disease, it is the name of a condition in humans caused by the bacterium, Bartonella henselae. This microscopic organism lives in the tissues surrounding the claws of many normal, healthy cats. Although it is usually harmless to cats, Bartonella can cause illness in humans.

How People Get It
Most of the time, people get Cat Scratch Disease from a bite or a scratch from a cat that carries the bacteria. It can also be transmitted by fleas. In scientific studies, close to half of normal cats were shown to be carriers. The studies also showed that kittens are more likely to be infected than are adult cats. Children and teens seem to be more susceptible and more cases occur in the winter, when free-roaming cats spend more time in the house.

Symptoms in People
Cat Scratch Disease is typically a mild illness from which people recover without medical attention. The primary symptoms in people are a raised bump at the site where the bacteria has entered the skin and one or more swollen, tender lymph nodes. In less than 25% of cases, people experience a low-grade fever and malaise. The symptoms usually resolve in a few months without treatment.

More serious symptoms that occur rarely include infection of the eyes, brain, heart, lungs, skin or liver. These symptoms are more likely in immunosuppressed individuals, especially those with active cases of acquired immunodefiency syndrome.

Symptoms in Cats
Symptoms in cats are thought to be rare, but research is ongoing. Bartonella infection has been suggested as a cause of some cases of mild fever, loss of balance, and eye infections in cats.

Preventing Cat Scratch Disease
The best methods for preventing Cat Scratch Disease are good flea control and avoiding bites and scratches. Avoid rough play, especially with kittens. Dont allow cats to lick open wounds, and wash all cat bites and scratches thoroughly.

Highly effective flea control products are available from your veterinarian. Keeping your cats claws trimmed or capped with disposable plastic covers are good ways to reduce the likelihood of a scratch. Your veterinarian can teach you how to trim your cats claws or can do it for you. They can also provide information and assistance with convenient nail caps to provide additional protection.

Immuno-compromised people should be sure to inform their doctors that they have cats and should notify their doctors if they do get bitten or scratched. Early treatment with antibiotics can help reduce the severity of serious infections.

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Seizures

Seizures are a neurological anomaly that may occur in some pets. They are caused by a wide variety of reasons and may manifest differently from...

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Seizures are a neurological anomaly that may occur in some pets. They are caused by a wide variety of reasons and may manifest differently from animal to animal. Seizures, although frequently frightening for the owners, can often be managed by medication once properly diagnosed. This handout will provide general information on the description, causes and solutions for seizure disorders in pets.

Seizures, often called convulsions or fits, will manifest themselves differently in each animal. It is important to remember, that while frightening for the owner, your pet does not feel any pain during the episode. And contrary to popular belief, your pet will not swallow its tongue during a seizure episode. In fact, you are more likely to be bitten severely if you try to force anything into the animals mouth. The only precaution that you should take is to make sure that your pet is not in danger of falling or striking a limb or its head on anything during the episode. After the seizure is complete, take time to observe and comfort your pet as they may be disoriented.

As seizures appear differently in each animal, it is best to look for some of the common signs:

Sporadic muscle contractions over the entire body
Falling to the side with a drawn back position of the head and neck
Loss or semi-loss of consciousness
Involuntary vomiting, salivation, urination or defecation
Changes in mental awareness from unresponsive staring to hallucinations
Behavioral changes including panting, pacing, odd running patterns, extreme docility, extreme viciousness and not recognizing known individuals
During the seizure, your pet will experience three different stages. The first stage of a seizure is called the pre-ictal or aura phase. During this phase your pet may exhibit a wide range of behavioral changes. These changes may include hiding, vocalizing, nervousness, shaking and many others. This stage may continue for a few seconds to a few hours. It is important to remember, however, that some pets do not experience or manifest any signs of this phase.

The second phase to a seizure is the ictal phase. This phase may last from a few seconds to five minutes and is the period in which the body convulses and displays the typical signs of a seizure described above. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, it is known as prolonged seizure or status. Status is a severe and extreme seizure condition and you should seek immediate medical attention.

The third phase of the seizure is known as the post-ictal phase. This phase may include changes in mental awareness, confusion, restlessness and temporary blindness. This phase varies by pet in length, symptoms and severity.

Seizures may be caused by many different factors and they are often indicators of other physical problems. The most common cause of seizures in pets is epilepsy. A common form of epilepsy is caused by the rapid over-stimulation of the neurons in the brain. This over-stimulation may be caused from a head injury or may be genetic and inherited from birth. However, seizures may also be a side effect and indicator of other physical problems. These problems may include brain tumors, poisoning, low blood sugar, nerve or muscle problems and organ disease.

Depending on the frequency and severity of your pets seizures, it may be started on oral medications to help control the seizures. Once started, however, these medications must be given reliably and for the rest of the pets life. Therefore, your veterinarian will do careful screening and testing before placing your pet on these medications. It is important to remember that your pets seizure disorder is a manageable condition and many pets live long, happy and rewarding lives with epilepsy.

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Thyroid Disease in Cats

Hyperthyroidism is a very common illness of older cats. It is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms are...

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Hyperthyroidism is a very common illness of older cats. It is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms are gradual and easily attributed to the normal aging process. However, the effects of hyperthyroidism on the body are deteriorative and progressive, ultimately resulting in death if untreated. All cats over the age of seven should be screened for hyperthyroidism during their scheduled wellness examinations. Treatment greatly improves quality of life and increases longevity.

Hyperthyroidism in cats is caused by a benign tumor of thyroid tissue that over produces the thyroid hormones T3 and thyroxine (T4). Less than 5% of cases involve a malignancy of the thyroid gland. Correlations between hyperthyroidism and environmental factors are unclear. One study shows an increased statistical incidence of the disease in cats that eat only or mostly canned cat food from “pop-top cans”. There is speculation that the ingredient bisphenol-A, which is used to seal the cans, could be linked to hyperthyroidism. It is not known whether the pop-top cans are coincidental to some other factor which causes this group of cats to seem predisposed to hyperthyroidism. Many cats that have been fed only dry cat food have developed hyperthyroidism; therefore, more study is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

In some cases, a palpable mass can be located at the base of the neck where the thyroid gland lies, but this finding alone is not a diagnosis. An elevated total T4 (T4) or free T4 by equilibrium dialysis (fT4ed) is the only definitive blood test for hyperthyroidism. Nuclear imaging, while effective at diagnosing a thyroid tumor, may be expensive and is of limited availability. As the disease progresses, elevations in liver and kidney values may be revealed. Symptoms include weight loss despite increased or insatiable appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, aggression, and restlessness. A pounding, rapid heart beat can often be felt when holding the cat. High blood pressure accompanies hyperthyroidism and can cause sudden blindness and kidney failure if left untreated.

There are three treatment options for hyperthyroid cats. The treatment of choice is radioactive iodine therapy. It is considered safe and completely curative with a one time treatment in 96 to 98% of cats. Nuclear imaging of the thyroid gland is performed to rule out malignancy and metastasis (tumor spread), and to calculate the exact dose of iodine 131 that will be administered during treatment. Iodine 131 is a radioactive isotope that selectively kills the tumor cells, sparing the healthy tissue. This procedure is only performed by a specialist, and the cat must be hospitalized for up to a week to avoid radioactive contamination of the owners. It is very non-stressful for the cat because anesthesia is not typically necessary, and the actual treatment consists of one injection followed by a week of boarding. This treatment usually requires no on-going therapy.

The second treatment option is an oral medication given twice daily called methimazole (Tapazole). Methimazole is inexpensive and safe, and works by blocking the production of thyroid hormones. The biggest problem with this option is compliance. Many owners find it very difficult to dose the cat with medication at all, let alone twice daily for the rest of its life. There are transdermal methimazole products that are used with some success. These are gels that are rubbed into the ears, however absorption of the drug varies and symptoms may be poorly controlled. Side effects of methimazole are fairly uncommon, but some cats can not tolerate the drug at all. Methimazole therapy is the most commonly employed treatment option by far.

The least pursued option to treat hyperthyroid cats is surgery to remove the overactive part of the thyroid. Many hyperthyroid cats have secondary heart and kidney problems associated with high blood pressure and are thus poor candidates for surgery. These cats are first treated with oral methimazole plus or minus heart and blood pressure medications for 2 to 4 weeks to stabilize them. Preferably, nuclear imaging is performed before surgery to rule out metastasis and clearly define the tumor. Surgery removes one or both lobes of the thyroid gland, carefully preserving the tiny parathyroid gland that sits atop the thyroid. The parathyroid gland controls calcium, an important electrolyte involved in muscle function (including the heart muscle). If this gland is damaged, hypocalcemic crisis may occur, which may be life threatening. When the surgery is successful, it is curative. Some cats may re-develop hyperthyroidism months after surgery, and some cats may become hypothyroid, requiring supplementation of thyroxine from that point forward.

After any treatment, T4 levels are periodically monitored to measure the response to the therapy. When thyroid levels are kept in check, the cat’s quality of life will drastically improve.

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Renal Failure

The kidneys normally filter the blood, cleansing it of waste products, toxins, and other substances. They maintain the correct balance of water and...

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The kidneys normally filter the blood, cleansing it of waste products, toxins, and other substances. They maintain the correct balance of water and electrolytes, help regulate blood pressure, and keep the blood pH at the right level. Unfortunately, failure of the kidneys is one of the most common diseases of cats. In this condition, the functional tissue of the kidneys is damaged, leaving them unable to filter the blood adequately. Toxins build up within the body, a condition known as azotemia.

Acute Renal Failure (ARF)
Acute Renal Failure means that the kidneys are damaged suddenly. This is usually caused by poisoning or a lack of blood flow. Poisons that can cause ARF are ethylene glycol (antifreeze); heavy metals such as zinc and lead; and large doses of certain antibiotics, acetaminophen, and chemotherapy drugs. Inadequate blood flow can be caused by shock, hemorrhage, low blood pressure, or dehydration. Infectious illnesses like Leptospirosis can also cause ARF.

Signs of acute renal failure are not very specific. Loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea or dehydration may be seen. Some pets with ARF urinate excessively while others stop urinating altogether. Information on the pets recent experiences is crucial in diagnosis of ARF. Once the veterinarian suspects kidney disease, blood and urine tests are used to determine the cause and the severity of the condition.

Animals with ARF are treated with IV fluids. Additional medications are used to correct electrolyte and pH imbalances and to reduce symptoms. Specific treatment for the original cause of the kidney damage is given if the cause is known. Healing can occur in tissues that are merely damaged, and viable parts of the kidneys will work harder to compensate. Unfortunately, the portions of the kidneys that have been destroyed will not recover.

Pet owners can do several things to reduce the chance of ARF. Keep antifreeze away from pets, and clean up spills immediately. Follow medication dosage instructions, and never give people medicine to pets without first consulting your veterinarian. Make sure that pets, especially older ones, always have access to fresh water.

Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)
Chronic Renal Failure is seen most often in pets over eight years of age, particularly cats. CRF occurs when the functional structures of the kidneys wear out. The damage happens gradually, so months or years may pass before symptoms appear. As much as 75% of the kidney tissue may be destroyed by that time.

Like ARF, symptoms of CRF can be vague. Early signs include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and sores in the mouth. As the illness progresses, animals drink more water, urinate more, and may have urinary accidents in the house. Eventually, toxin buildup and electrolyte imbalances can damage the nervous system and the eyes, causing seizures, coma and blindness. Many animals with CRF become anemic, because the kidneys are also responsible for stimulating production of new blood cells. The veterinarian will perform blood and urine tests to confirm a diagnosis of CRF and to assess the severity of symptoms.

CRF is a progressive, irreversible disease. Treatment is aimed at slowing the rate of damage and minimizing symptoms. Diets for pets with CRF usually contain restricted amounts of high quality protein and are low in minerals. Many pets require supplemental fluids given periodically under the skin or intravenously. Medications are given to manage nausea, correct electrolyte and pH imbalances, control high blood pressure, and stimulate blood cell production.

The newest treatments available for pets with CRF are hemodialysis and kidney transplantation. These procedures are very costly and are only available at certain veterinary teaching hospitals and specialty practices. Hemodialysis is used as a temporary, emergency method for cleansing the blood. Transplantation can extend a pets life for two or more years. Kidney transplants are complex surgeries with a success rate of about 80% in cats. Pets that receive transplants must remain on anti-rejection medicine for life. Regardless of the type of treatment, the goal is to maintain the pets quality of life. When this is no longer possible, euthanasia may be considered.

Chronic Renal Failure is not preventable. Although some have suggested that low protein diets might have a protective benefit for animals with healthy kidneys, scientific research does not support this belief

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Pet Library

We’re always happy when we can put our experience and expertise to use for the good of our patients and their owners. Our goal is to become a valuable resource to our clients and the community as a whole. Please feel free to browse through our extensive online library of articles which covers a variety of topics that we feel may be helpful to you, from general wellness to medications to behavior and alternative therapies. Have a question or topic you don’t see here?  Let us know – we’d be happy to help!

Heartworm Disease in Cats

Heartworm Disease is a potentially life-threatening parasitic infection. Found worldwide, it mainly affects dogs and their wild relatives. However,...

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Heartworm Disease is a potentially life-threatening parasitic infection. Found worldwide, it mainly affects dogs and their wild relatives. However, it causes serious disease in some cats as well.

How Pets Get Heartworms
Heartworm Disease is caused by a worm, Dirofilaria immitis, and is spread by mosquitoes. When a mosquito feeds on an infected animal, usually a dog, it ingests microscopic larvae in the blood. These microfilariae mature in the mosquito for about two weeks. When the mosquito bites a susceptible animal the infectious larvae are injected into its tissues. They migrate through the animals body, maturing into adult worms over a period of months. The adult worms live in the heart and major blood vessels where they reproduce to create new microfilariae. The time from infection to appearance of microfilariae is about six months.

Cats seem to have a greater natural resistance against heartworms as compared to dogs. The prevalence of the disease in cats ranges from 0% to about 9% depending on geographic area. In the United States, heartworms are found in all 50 states but are most common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and near the Mississippi River. When cats do get heartworms, they usually only develop one or a few adult worms. The worms rarely reproduce or produce microfilariae.

What the Disease Does
Adult worms cause inflammation of the blood vessels and the lungs, and can obstruct arteries. They can live in a cats body as long as two or three years, but may be killed sooner by the animals immune system. As worms die, they release antigens that can create life-threatening inflammatory reactions.

Symptoms of heartworm disease in cats are vague. They include coughing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and seizures. Some cats die suddenly without showing any other symptoms.

How Heartworm Disease is Diagnosed
Diagnosis of heartworms in cats is more difficult as compared with dogs. Blood tests for antibodies to heartworm are useful initially. However, the antibody test determines only whether the cat has been exposed. It will not differentiate between an infected cat and a cat that was exposed but fought off the infection. Therefore, antibody-positive cats should receive further testing. A blood test for the presence of the adult heartworm (antigen test) is often the second step. A positive antigen test confirms the presence of heartworms. However, the test can miss some infected cats, so other diagnostics may be needed too. These include physical examination, blood counts, microfilaria tests, x-rays, ultrasound, and angiography.

Treatment for Heartworm Disease
There are no medicines currently approved for treatment of feline heartworm disease in the United States. Cats with mild symptoms are monitored carefully and may be given anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids to minimize lung inflammation. A physical exam and x-rays are recommended twice a year. The goal is to support the cat until the worms have died and the inflammation has subsided. Cats with more serious symptoms are usually hospitalized and may require additional medications, such as bronchodilators, IV fluids, oxygen, and antibiotics.

Medications designed for killing adult heartworms in dogs are sometimes used to treat cats. This is considered an experimental use of these drugs and is undertaken with great caution, since the risk of fatal side effects is relatively high. Even more rarely, adult worms may be surgically extracted from a cats heart.

Preventing Heartworm Disease
Fortunately, effective preventive medications are available. They are given monthly and can be started as early as 4-6 weeks of age. Preventive medication is recommended for cats in areas where heartworms are common. Cats should be tested for heartworm before starting preventive treatment, and retested annually. Preventive is given seasonally in some parts of the U.S., but year-round in temperate areas. If a dose is missed, its best to give it as soon as possible and check with your veterinarian about the need for a heartworm test.

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Urinary Incontinence

There are many causes of urinary incontinence in cats, although the condition is fairly rare. Symptoms of urinary incontinence can be distinguished...

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There are many causes of urinary incontinence in cats, although the condition is fairly rare. Symptoms of urinary incontinence can be distinguished from other forms of inappropriate urination by the fact that it occurs without the cat being aware, such as during sleep. It is a problem that affects mainly older spayed female overweight cats. Most cats with incontinence will have contributing urinary tract or kidney disease, so it is important to perform comprehensive diagnostics before making the assumption that the problem is uncomplicated urinary incontinence.

The cat’s history of symptoms and a urinalysis can quickly rule out a bladder infection or kidney disease as being the cause of leaking urine. Excessive water consumption due to underlying diseases like Diabetes and renal insufficiency should be ruled out as well. A complete blood count, chemistry panel, thyroid level, abdominal x-ray, and blood pressure will be performed on all symptomatic cats as a diagnostic workup. In the case of hormone related urinary incontinence, the urine is completely normal. It should be noted however, that incontinent cats are more susceptible to ascending bacterial bladder infections because of the mechanism that causes the bladder to leak.

Reproductive hormone (estrogen) responsive urinary incontinence is rarer in cats than in dogs. The cause of estrogen responsive urinary incontinence is not completely understood, but the fact that it occurs in spayed females and responds to estrogen supplementation leads us to believe that the mechanism involves reduced levels of the hormone or reduced estrogen-receptor function. Urine is kept in the bladder by a sphincter muscle at the top of the urethra, the tube that carries urine outside the body. In older spayed female cats, this sphincter muscle loses tone, and urine begins to leak. During rest and sleep, the muscles especially relax, leading to complete incontinence. Obesity further complicates this condition, probably from excess weight pushing on the bladder. Not all spayed female cats will develop urinary incontinence; therefore, the exact role that estrogen plays is uncertain.

When uncomplicated urinary incontinence is diagnosed, treatment with synthetic estrogen (diethylstilbestrol – DES) may be prescribed. DES has a wide margin of safety in cats; however, over-dosage can result in serious side effects, and long term usage can cause bone marrow suppression, reducing the cat’s white blood cell count. Blood counts should be measured periodically on cats that take DES. Reduced availability of the drug has caused veterinarians to seek alternative therapies.

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) may be used as an alternate drug to DES. It is a neuro-stimulant that improves bladder muscle tone and is safe for use in healthy cats. It must be used with caution in kidney and heart failure patients, and those with high blood pressure. Side effects are dose dependent; so the amount may be reduced, but efficacy in controlling incontinence may diminish. A low-dose combination of DES and PPA may be a good solution for cats who do not tolerate therapeutic doses of either drug. If symptoms suddenly worsen, or if inappropriate urination occurs outside of sleep, a bacterial infection or other disease process should be considered.

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Rabies

Rabies is the most infamous disease that can be passed from animals to people. It has been the subject of so many novels and movies that it can be...

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Rabies is the most infamous disease that can be passed from animals to people. It has been the subject of so many novels and movies that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Knowing the truth about rabies can help you protect your cat and your family from this deadly disease.

What is Rabies?
Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It infects all warm-blooded animals, including people and is almost always fatal. In the United States, human cases of rabies are rare, only a few each year. The risk is still present though, since rabid animals are found in most states.

How Is It Spread?
More than 90% of reported cases of rabies today in the U.S. occur in wild animals. The species most likely to carry rabies include raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, and coyotes. Even though rats have been targeted as a major source of rabies in fictional stories, they are actually very unlikely to harbor the disease. The number of cases in domestic animals is small but still represents a significant risk, since people are more likely to come into physical contact with them.

Rabies is usually transmitted via the saliva as a result of a bite from an infected animal. The virus enters the nerves near the site of infection, and travels through the nervous system to the brain over a period of weeks or months. Symptoms occur once the virus reaches the brain. This is also the time when the saliva becomes infectious.

Rabies in Animals
Animals with rabies often exhibit behavioral changes. Wild animals may act friendly, groggy or unafraid of people. Pets may act fearful or agitated. Other symptoms include excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, lack of coordination, and paralysis. The only accurate tests for rabies in animals are performed postmortem. Animals suspected of rabies are euthanized rather than treated, because there is no cure.

Rabies in People
The symptoms of rabies in people are similar to those in animals. People with rabies are kept as comfortable as possible in the hospital, but there is no effective treatment for the disease.

Rabies Prevention
Fortunately, this terrible disease can be prevented. Here are some of the ways you, your family, and your cat can stay safe.

Vaccinate your pets regularly, even if they live indoors. Vaccines are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses. Vaccinated pets act as a buffer zone between rabid animals and you. If your unvaccinated pet bites someone or is bitten by a wild animal, he may be subject to a lengthy and costly quarantine.
Help minimize the stray animal problem in your community. Have all of your pets spayed and neutered. Call your local animal control agency to remove strays in your neighborhood.
Avoid contact with wild animals. Do not feed wildlife or allow your cat to chase or hunt wild animals. Keep garbage and pet food inside or in secure containers. Never try to keep a wild animal as a pet, or nurse a sick one back to health. Instead, contact a wildlife rescue agency for assistance.
If your cat is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary care right away.
If you are bitten by a wild animal or an unvaccinated pet, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Seek medical attention immediately. Be able to provide your doctor with the location of the incident, the type of animal that bit you, how the bite occurred, and whether the animal has been captured. Treatment immediately after exposure is extremely effective. Dont be scared away by horror stories about countless shots in the stomach, the current procedure is much less unpleasant than it used to be, and is certainly preferable to risking the disease.

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Pregnancy and Delivery

The gestation period for a cat (length of time between conception and delivery) is about 63 to 65 days. The pregnant female is called a queen. A...

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The gestation period for a cat (length of time between conception and delivery) is about 63 to 65 days. The pregnant female is called a queen. A complete physical examination should be performed before intentional breeding. The queen’s viral status (leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus) will be tested. Also, she should be screened and de-wormed for intestinal parasites that can be passed to her kittens. The veterinarian may choose to vaccinate the queen before breeding as well. For unintentional pregnancies, or if a cat is thought to be pregnant, confirmation should be made by a veterinarian and appropriate preventive care given. Cats will typically have litters of 2 to 5 kittens, and the number to expect during whelping can be determined by an x-ray about 1 week beforehand.

Pregnant and nursing queens should be fed free-choice high quality kitten food to provide the extra protein, fat, and calcium they will require to raise a healthy litter. Fresh water should always be available. A whelping bed can be made from a large box with warm blankets. Be sure it is large enough for the queen to arrange and groom her kittens when they are delivered. A heating pad is not recommended because the kittens will not be able to cool themselves by moving away from the heat source.

The queen may become especially needy during pregnancy, and this is normal behavior. Give her the extra attention she seeks. If she becomes aggressive however, it may be a sign of pain or complications with the pregnancy. Veterinary advice should be sought.

In may be necessary to assist the queen in cleaning the birth sac from the newborn kittens. Generally, she should not be bothered during labor; but if she can not tend to the kittens in a timely manner, remove the sac using a soft wash cloth to prevent suffocation. There will be amniotic fluid in the kitten’s mouth and lungs that can be aspirated with a bulb syringe or gently shaken out. Stimulate the kitten fairly vigorously with gentle rubbing until it begins squirming and crying; then allow the queen to finish grooming it.

Cesarean Section (surgical delivery of kittens) is rare in cats unless there are complications such as dystocia (an unborn kitten lodged in the birth canal). Phone numbers for an after hours veterinarian should be obtained in case emergency care is needed. Labor usually lasts a couple of hours. If more than 20 minutes of contractions elapse without delivering a kitten, or if a partial birth occurs and is not completed after 10 minutes of contractions, this is an emergency situation that requires immediate veterinarian intervention.

The decision to breed a cat should not be taken likely. Consider the hundreds of thousands of homeless cats that wind up in shelters or on the street every year. Spaying and neutering is the only way to avoid unwanted litters.

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Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs)

Sometimes called Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions, FORLs are erosions of tooth enamel along the gum-line similar to cavities. Other names that have...

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Sometimes called Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions, FORLs are erosions of tooth enamel along the gum-line similar to cavities. Other names that have fallen out of favor include feline cavities, neck lesions, and cervical line lesions. Unlike cavities caused by saccharolytic bacteria, FORLs may occur before the presence of periodontal disease affecting the teeth and gums. The cause of FORLs is not completely understood, but the involvement of odontoclasts is seen microscopically. Odontoclasts are the cells normally responsible for absorbing deciduous (baby) teeth roots to allow adult teeth to erupt. It is speculated that these cells are triggered by an autoimmune response to dissolve adult tooth enamel. FORLs can be very painful as the protective enamel is eroded away, exposing the sensitive dentin and pulp beneath the tooth’s outer layers. They can cause drooling, anorexia, gradual weight loss, broken teeth or tooth loss, and secondary gum disease.

FORLs may be difficult to diagnose during a routine exam. This is one reason that prophylactic dental cleanings are vital to prevent advanced disease. If a cat is symptomatic, an exam – and as necessary, a dental cleaning – should be performed under anesthesia.

FORLs affect especially the lower premolars, but any tooth can be involved. There are 4 stages of progression to classify their severity. In the earliest stage, or stage I, the FORL is a small defect in the enamel that has not exposed the sensitive dentin underneath. When discovered at this stage, the tooth may be ultrasonically cleaned and thoroughly polished. Fluoride treatments can help to strengthen the enamel and slow the process of erosion to some degree.

Stage II lesions reach the dentin, and are usually painful. Symptoms may help determine the course of treatment to pursue with these teeth. If the cat exhibits signs of discomfort or has changed its eating habits, tooth extraction is probably warranted. Fluoride restorative products may help to desensitize the affected teeth, but data on long-term efficacy is inconclusive.

In Stage III FORLs, the defect has entered the pulp chamber as seen on oral radiography (X-rays), and extraction is eminent. Cats with Stage III lesions will often wince when touched around the face, and some cats may begin hiding or become aggressive. Their eating habits have, by this point, changed – sometimes realized in retrospect.

Stage IV FORLs are characterized by tooth fracture and advanced inflammatory changes in the gum tissue. Often, the crown of the tooth is missing, and gum tissue will attempt to cover the exposed root portion. This will usually become an infected, ulcerated, painful lesion that bleeds easily when probed. Tooth extraction or surgical exploration for residual root fragments is the only treatment option available at this point.

In cases that involve active inflammation, antibiotics are prescribed. And of course, pain should never go untreated. Analgesic drugs may be needed before and for a period after surgical treatment of FORLs.

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An Authorized Dealer

Dynamic Percussion is an authorized dealer for dozens of the most well-known musical instrument manufacturers in the world. We maintain two showroom floors featuring both new and used/vintage equipment. Our large selection of drum sets, snare drums, cymbals, hardware, auxiliary percussion, hand drums, sticks & mallets, electronics, parts and accessories make for an unparalleled browsing experience for both new and veteran drummers alike. There are no high-pressure, commission-dependent salesman here, only friendly and knowledgeable professional drummers. 

Feline Pancreatitis and Triaditis

Many diseases are defined by a classical set of symptoms, a pattern of abnormal findings on laboratory tests, a known cause or physiological...

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Many diseases are defined by a classical set of symptoms, a pattern of abnormal findings on laboratory tests, a known cause or physiological mechanism that is occurring within the body, and a preferred treatment protocol that results in improvement and hopefully a cure. Feline Pancreatitis and Feline Triaditis (dysfunction of the pancreas, liver, and gastrointestinal tract) are two illnesses that seldom meet all of these criteria. What is known about them is that they can become chronic, confused with or complicated by other diseases, difficult to diagnose, and frustrating to treat. Both may be primary problems or secondary to other metabolic or infectious causes. Treatment is both specific and supportive, depending upon how much information can be gathered during the diagnostic process.

Realizing that an explanation this vague – of what is wrong with their cat – can be frustrating to the owner, it is best to understand that the terms pancreatitis and triaditis simply mean inflammation of the associated organs. They are the effect of the disease, while the cause may remain elusive. Still, there is reward in successfully treating these illnesses, understanding that they present a significant challenge.

The organs affected by these diseases are the pancreas, liver, and lining of the stomach and intestinal tract. Inflammation in these systems affects the body’s ability to digest, absorb, and utilize nutrients. Symptoms may include lethargy, anorexia (refusal to eat), weight loss, vomiting, or diarrhea. Usually intermittent at first, the symptoms will become more persistent and increase in severity over time. Eventually, a cascade of systemic toxicosis (elevation of toxins in the bloodstream), bleeding disorders (disseminated intravascular coagulopathy), and organ failure may occur if the disease is not managed.

A thorough physical exam with blood work, fecal examination, and urinalysis is performed during the initial assessment of the cat. These tests are used to rule in or out other primary diseases that can mimic or lead to pancreatitis and triaditis. There is generally no pattern to abnormal primary laboratory results, but changes in associated organ function tests may be noted. Mild anemia, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and elevations in non-specific liver and pancreatic enzymes are common findings.

X-rays are usually not rewarding but are necessary to rule out abdominal masses. Ultrasonography may be helpful in revealing an enlarged pancreas surrounded by fluid, thus confirming inflammation of the organ, and may be used to guide a needle biopsy of the liver. Needle biopsy of the pancreas may be counter-productive, and while confirming the presence of inflammatory cells, it is unreliable at determining a cause (i.e. cancer). Ultrasound cannot by itself rule out either disease.

There is a special blood chemistry panel, sometimes referred to as a feline GI panel, which includes a test specific for feline pancreatitis called a spec – fPLI. The panel may also include a TLI, cobalamin (Vitamin B12) test and a folate test, which are helpful in diagnosing Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Both of these diseases cause similar symptoms and may be precursors to feline pancreatitis and triaditis. Chronic cobalamin deficiency leads to anemia and is easily supplemented. Bile acid assays can also be measured to assess the liver’s functional ability. Hepatic lipidosis is a type of liver failure that may stem from any of these diseases when they are not quickly addressed.

Exploratory surgery with tissue biopsies gives the best results in achieving a complete diagnosis. The presence of large numbers of white blood cells in the affected tissues is diagnostic for inflammation and can also rule out cancer and infectious sources of disease. This option should be considered when other tests are inconclusive and before the cat is debilitated to the point that anesthesia and surgery would present too great a risk.

Treating feline pancreatitis and triaditis involves eliminating infection as a cause. Bacterial and viral infections are possible, yet rare or secondary causes. Antibiotics may be needed to treat primary or secondary bacterial infections.

Also, inflammatory bowel disease, which can progress to pancreatitis and triaditis, is thought to have an allergic component. Hypoallergenic diets may improve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and help prevent the development of subsequent organ dysfunction.

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Stomatitis in Cats

Stomatitis in cats, sometimes called gingivostomatitis, plasma cell stomatitis, or lymphoplasmacytic stomatitis, is a very painful condition...

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Stomatitis in cats, sometimes called gingivostomatitis, plasma cell stomatitis, or lymphoplasmacytic stomatitis, is a very painful condition affecting the tissues in the mouth. The cause of this condition remains unknown. It may be an immune-mediated process or it may be associated with viral or bacterial causes. No one knows at this time.

Stomatitis is characterized by extreme inflammation, ulceration, and pain in the gums adjacent to the teeth, especially at the premolars, molars, and the corners of the mouth where the upper and lower jaws meet. Very bad breath (halitosis), drooling, and anorexia (refusal to eat) are symptoms that coincide with these lesions. Normal periodontal disease (of the teeth and gums) is not necessarily present. A change in attitude toward people and other pets – hiding, cowering, or aggression – is also common.

Feline Stomatitis should be differentiated from other ulcerative lesions that affect the teeth and gums by performing a biopsy under anesthesia. It may be very difficult for the veterinarian, and uncomfortable for the cat, to adequately examine the mouth without a general anesthetic, in fact. A thorough scaling and polishing of the teeth, and disinfection with a chlorhexidine solution, should be performed at this point; and at least short-term improvement will most likely result while a pathology report is pending. Long-acting cortisone injections may be helpful in relieving some of the inflammation and pain. Some cats’ stomatitis can be managed fairly successfully by scheduling teeth cleanings regularly and by using cortisone injections and antibiotics symptomatically. The majority of cats however, will require more aggressive therapy as they will become too painful to eat.

Obviously, oral medications may not be practical for these very uncomfortable patients. Attempting to give anything by mouth can result in a nasty bite wound from even the most docile cat who suffers from stomatitis. Repeated cortisone injections carry their own risks. There are some other medications and rinses that can be tried if the cat will tolerate being handled around the mouth. These include Interferon-alpha, lactoferrin, and chlorambucil. Each offers mixed and limited results.

Most cats affected by stomatitis will eventually require complete tooth extraction. Usually, the canine teeth (fangs) are spared, if possible, to keep the tongue from hanging out of the mouth. This is a radical approach, but it is often the only method to alleviate pain adequately so that the cat can continue to eat. And yes, they can eat fine without teeth. Canned food is recommended, but some cats will still prefer their kibble – just swallowed whole instead of chewed.

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Acne

Feline acne is caused by comedones, or blackheads, on the cat’s chin. Stress, poor grooming habits, immune suppression, and contact dermatitis can be triggers for acne. Comedones form when oils...

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Feline acne is caused by comedones, or blackheads, on the cat’s chin. Stress, poor grooming habits, immune suppression, and contact dermatitis can be triggers for acne. Comedones form when oils produced in the skin cannot drain properly through the sebaceous and apocrine glands. The ducts fill with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. The cat may scratch and rub at the raised irritated bump that forms. Hair loss and secondary skin infection may result. Other skin diseases that can be confused with feline acne include feline eosinophilic complex, demodecosis (mange), and ringworm.

Rarely, an allergic reaction to nylon or plastic food bowls may cause feline acne. It is always worth a try to switch to stainless steel bowls to see if there is improvement. A shampoo or acne medication containing 3% benzoyl peroxide is used to break down the oils that clog the comedones and kill bacteria. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed if there is secondary infection or deep dermatitis. Never use over the counter topical acne products without first consulting a veterinarian as the cat may consume the medication while grooming.

Tests that are used to rule out other skin conditions that may mimic feline acne include skin scrapings, fungal cultures, and biopsy. These diagnostics may be recommended in the case of deep dermatitis or extreme self-trauma.

Supplementation with omega fatty acids may help prevent feline acne. The anti-oxidant activity of these supplements protect the skin cells from damage that may lead to comedones. Food allergy is a possible contributor to feline acne when there are other associated symptoms present. A hypoallergenic diet food trial may be in order.

Poor grooming as a cause of acne may be a sign of underlying disease. If the cat has recently changed its grooming habits, a physical exam and blood chemistry profile should be performed.

Routine cleaning of the chin with astringent pads can help reduce breakouts in cats that are prone to feline acne.

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Hepatobiliary Disease (Formerly Cholangiohepatitis) in Cats

There are numerous causes of liver inflammation, or hepatitis, in cats. Cholangiohepatitis is a description of a certain type of liver dysfunction...

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There are numerous causes of liver inflammation, or hepatitis, in cats. Cholangiohepatitis is a description of a certain type of liver dysfunction rather than a diagnosis of the cause. “Cholangio” refers to the biliary system: the bile ducts in the liver, the gall bladder that stores digestive fluid called bile which is produced in the liver, and the duct that delivers the bile into the duodenum or the upper-most section of the small intestine. Inflammation that arises anywhere in the biliary system leads to systemic illness thusly named cholangitis. Cats, in contrast to dogs, more commonly have primary disease of the biliary system (cholangitis) rather than the liver (hepatitis) itself; therefore, the term Cholangiohepatitis is now being replaced by Hepatobiliary Disease in cats.

Cholangitis is further categorized as neutrophilic (formerly suppurative or exudative), lymphocytic (formerly non-suppurative), and biliary cirrhosis. The neutrophilic form is associated with bacterial infection ascending from the small intestine. An accurate diagnosis of neutrophilic cholangitis requires exam and culture of bile since microscopic exam of biopsied liver tissue is nonspecific. The non-suppurative form is not related to bacterial infection, but is characterized instead by white blood cells called lymphocytes that infiltrate the liver. The exact cause is unknown. Biliary cirrhosis is the rarest form, caused by scarring of the bile duct walls and the surrounding liver tissue thought to represent an end stage of chronic biliary tract disease.

Symptoms of cholangitis include vomiting and diarrhea, subsequent dehydration, anorexia (loss of appetite), fever, and jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes). In cats, cholangitis often occurs concurrently with pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. The disease complex of the three interrelated organ systems is sometimes referred to as Feline Triaditis. It is most often thought of as an inflammatory disorder which may in part be associated with an immune response to bacteria and/or dietary antigens.

Cholangitis is diagnosed presumptively, based upon clinical signs and blood-chemistry results, until a tissue biopsy confirms the presence of the associated white blood cells that have infiltrated the liver tissue. Blood work may reveal elevated liver leakage enzymes, increased bile acids, abnormalities associated with dehydration, and possibly a mild anemia. Abdominal ultrasound is used to visualize the liver and biliary system, as well as collect ultrasound-guided needle biopsies of the affected tissues. A needle aspiration of the bile, to be examined by a pathologist, is also useful in diagnosing the cause of liver disease. Exploratory surgery is necessary where there is bile duct obstruction. Impeded bile flow will lead to complete liver failure and death unless the cause is found and corrected quickly.

Because the causes of cholangitis are variable, the appropriate course of therapy is determined on a case-by-case basis. Where there is a physical obstruction in the bile duct or gall bladder, the problem will be treated surgically. Antibiotics specifically targeted to bacteria that are identified with culture and sensitivity tests will be given to animals suspected of suppurative liver disease. Bacteria may produce toxins that are normally eliminated by the healthy liver but may accumulate in the sick patient.

Other medications useful in treating cholangitis include choleretics, or drugs that reduce bile viscosity and improve biliary flow. The most common choleretic used in animals is ursodiol, or Actigall. Lactulose is a disaccharide sugar that is not absorbed by the body, but acts to reduce bacterial toxin production and the toxic protein metabolite ammonia that may be absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestinal tract. S-adenosylmethionine, or SAM-e, is a potent antioxidant and liver cell protectant. Used in conjunction with milk-thistle, a nutraceutical supplement, these compounds are shown to decrease cell damage caused by biliary dysfunction and help the liver rebuild healthy functional tissue.

Extremely ill cats may also receive intravenous fluids, electrolyte replacement, and vitamin supplementation in the initial stages of treatment. These supportive measures help to prevent other possible complications of hepatobiliary disease.

The prognosis for cholangitis is highly variable and depends on the underlying cause of the disease process. Obviously, cancers involving the liver and intestinal tract carry a more guarded to poor prognosis. On the other hand, it is difficult to predict the outcome of Feline Triaditis as the combination of organs affected by the disease makes it particularly challenging to treat. Cats will be treated long-term and eventually tapered to maintenance dosages of therapeutic drug combinations.

Dietary support includes feeding a highly digestible, high quality diet without protein restriction. Prescription diets are available for animals with hepatobiliary disease, and your veterinarian will determine the appropriate formula to feed your cat during and after treatment.

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Chlamydiosis in Cats

Feline Chlamydiosis causes upper respiratory and eye infections in cats. It is a bacterial infection caused by the organism Chlamydophila felis (previously Chlamydia psittaci). The symptoms are...

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Feline Chlamydiosis causes upper respiratory and eye infections in cats. It is a bacterial infection caused by the organism Chlamydophila felis (previously Chlamydia psittaci). The symptoms are generally mild but can progress if left untreated. The most common symptom of Chlamydia however, is conjunctivitis – a purulent (pus) discharge and inflamed tissues surrounding the eye. Congestion and nasal discharge are also symptoms seen with this infection. A vaccine is available for cats at high-risk for Chlamydia, but it is generally not part of a core vaccination protocol because of its limited efficacy and relatively high incidence of side effects (3%). Cats that should receive the vaccine are those in cat shelters, where infection can become endemic.

Overcrowded, poorly ventilated, and unsanitary conditions are breeding grounds for Chlamydia. The bacteria are easily carried from one cat to another on human hands and clothing, contaminated bedding and food bowls, and un-disinfected cages. Cats with respiratory symptoms can propel bacteria into the air when they sneeze and cough. Stress and malnutrition also make cats more susceptible to the infection. Young kittens and those with immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are most vulnerable.

Mild chlamydiosis usually responds well to antibiotic therapy. Cats should be treated aggressively at the first signs of infection before the progression of more severe respiratory symptoms occurs. Cats rely on their sense of smell for their appetite; therefore, they will stop eating when nasal congestion occurs. This makes them even more susceptible to infection.

The bacteria can be cultured from ocular and nasal discharge; however, most of the time the diagnosis is made based on symptoms and history. Also, there are blood tests to check for antibodies produced in response to Chlamydial infections. Further diagnostics may be done on cats that do not respond well to treatment. Chlamydia shares common symptoms of several other upper respiratory diseases.

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Aggression

Aggressive behavior by cats can be distressful and dangerous to their owners and other pets in the household. There are numerous forms of feline aggression triggered by different causes. Cats are...

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Aggressive behavior by cats can be distressful and dangerous to their owners and other pets in the household. There are numerous forms of feline aggression triggered by different causes. Cats are semi-domesticated animals that revert to their wild instincts in times of play, social interaction, and stress. Aggression should be dealt with early, rather than allowing inappropriate behaviors to escalate until they are unmanageable. Many cats are unfortunately euthanized because of aggressive behaviors that were controlled at the onset.

Play aggression can stem from a kitten being orphaned or weaned at too young an age. Mother cats are very stern with their kittens and teach restraint in play that humans can not communicate to cats. Play aggression can be distinguished from other forms in that it will resemble hunting activity. Cats may hide and pounce on anything that moves, including their owners. The cats are practicing capturing prey, but they may become overly exuberant with teeth and claws. They best way to curb this behavior is to provide a lot of activity that will allow the cat to focus its energy on appropriate objects. Never play aggressively with a cat, and never physically punish him for this behavior as it will only serve to reinforce the behavior. Give the cat instead toys that are interactive. Hanging toys that the cat can bat at, and laser toys to chase are good alternatives to fingers and toes.

Misdirected aggression occurs when a cat is highly agitated by another animal, such as when an indoor cat sees another cat outside a window. If the owner or another household pet gets too near, the upset cat may take out his frustration on the unsuspecting passerby. The only good way to avoid this is to predict it when possible. Close the curtains and remove children and pets from the room. Allow the upset cat to cool down before attempting any interaction with him.

Status related aggression involves conflict in the hierarchy of a multi-cat household. Cats display dominance in different ways than dogs. Disputes over territory are common. It is important to provide each cat with its own personal space. Provide one-on-one attention with the cats in their particular favorite resting spot in the house. Separate litter pans and feeding areas may also be necessary. Territorial disputes can become very aggressive. If so, the cats may need to be kept in separate rooms with closed doors, and then slowly reintroduced to each other. After complete separation for a period of weeks, the door is opened slightly so that the cats can investigate each other. Switch the cats rooms several times during this time so that each cat can become acclimated to the others smell. Switch their bedding and food bowls as well. A common toy that is placed beneath the door may help the cats begin to play together. This may need to be a very slow process, and it should not be rushed. Aggressive behavior, once it becomes established, can be difficult to stop.

It should be noted that bottle raised kittens can become extremely aggressive toward their owners, other pets, and visitors to the home. An orphaned kitten should be placed with an adult cat, especially a female, at the youngest age possible. Adult cats can communicate restraint in aggressive behavior to kittens that humans can not.

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Allergies

Allergies are a major cause of skin disease, discomfort and distress in cats. Pruritus, or intense itching, is the most characteristic sign of allergies. This itching is caused by the release of histamines from mast cells located throughout the body. Hair loss, redness and skin infections may result secondary to the allergy. Over time, the hair coat may become stained from excessive licking and...

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Allergies are a major cause of skin disease, discomfort and distress in cats. Pruritus, or intense itching, is the most characteristic sign of allergies. This itching is caused by the release of histamines from mast cells located throughout the body. Hair loss, redness and skin infections may result secondary to the allergy. Over time, the hair coat may become stained from excessive licking and the skin may become dark and thickened. Ear infections may also result from allergic conditions. The two most common types of allergic conditions exhibited by cats are those of inhalant allergies and food allergies.

The treatment of allergies can be achieved by using three methods; removal of the allergen source, suppression of the itch with antihistamines, or corticosteroid administration and gradual desensitization of the immune system to the specific allergens affecting the pet. The removal of the offending substance is appropriate if the allergen source is a food item, flea saliva or something that is easy to remove from the environment. Elimination of certain diets and food trials are often implemented if food allergies are suspected. If flea bites are the problem, it will be necessary to eliminate fleas on the cat. Your veterinarian will suggest the appropriate flea treatment for your cat. Many allergens, however, are difficult or impossible to remove, such as pollen in the air or dust in the home.

The use of antihistamines or corticosteroids is the second method. Antihistamines act by reducing the release of histamine by the mast cells and are often very effective in controlling allergy symptoms. Corticosteroids act in many ways to suppress the allergic reaction before and after the allergy develops. Steroids are very effective, but must be used with caution. If used excessively, adverse effects can be seen. Because of the often-extensive self-trauma associated with allergic conditions, antibiotics are often administered to control the secondary infections that are frequently present.

The final treatment option is the process of desensitizing the patient over time. This densensitization process begins by identifying the allergens that the cat is sensitive to through specialized intra-dermal tests or blood evaluation. Once the allergens are identified, specialized mixtures of these substances are combined into an injectable form that is given at regular intervals. With time, the cats immune system response to these allergens diminishes and many cat owners note measurable improvement in their pets.

When ingestion or food allergies are suspected, a food trial lasting 6-12 weeks may be done. This involves changing the diet in an effort to eliminate possible allergens that may be present in the current diet. Complete compliance to the trial diet is needed for the trial to be of any value. Your veterinarian will likely be assessing your cat’s allergy symptoms and will form a therapeutic plan that suits your cat’s needs. A combination of the different therapies discussed is often needed. The management of highly allergic pets can be a very challenging undertaking, but the results obtained dramatically improve the quality of life for both you and your cat.

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Asthma

Feline asthma is a relatively common ailment, affecting about 1% of cats. The disease closely resembles the same condition in humans.

What Causes Asthma

Asthma is triggered in susceptible cats by...

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Feline asthma is a relatively common ailment, affecting about 1% of cats. The disease closely resembles the same condition in humans.

What Causes Asthma

Asthma is triggered in susceptible cats by exposure to allergens or irritants. Common culprits include pollens, cigarette or fireplace smoke, various sprays, perfumes, deodorizers, carpet cleaners, and dust from cat litter. In response to exposure, the smooth muscles surrounding the airways contract, narrowing the breathing passages. The airway lining may also become inflamed and produce excessive amounts of mucus.

Signs of Asthma
The most common sign of asthma is coughing. It is often mistaken for hairballs. Other signs include difficulty breathing, wheezing, and lethargy. Cats experiencing severe episodes of asthma may pant with their mouths open.

Diagnosis
Diagnosis begins with a thorough history and a physical examination. The veterinarian may detect wheezing sounds with the stethoscope. However, additional tests are usually needed. X-rays often show characteristic signs of lung inflammation. A tracheal wash, in which cells rinsed from the airways are examined microscopically, is sometimes recommended. Tests to rule out parasites, such as heartworms, may be necessary as well.

Treatment
As in humans, asthma is a condition that is treated but not truly cured. Many cats respond well to treatment with inhaled medications administered through a face mask. Corticosteroids help to control the inflammatory response in the lungs. Bronchodilators help keep the airways open during an attack. Some cats may need both types of medications. Oral medications are also used, but may be less effective or have greater side effects. Cats whose asthma is not completely controlled with inhalant medication are often prescribed oral corticosteroids as well.

Cats experiencing a severe, acute asthma attack require emergency treatment. They should be kept quiet and handled as little as possible on the way to the veterinary hospital. Once there, they will be treated with oxygen and fast acting corticosteroids. They may also receive bronchodilators. These severe attacks can be fatal.

Preventing Attacks
It is crucial to use inhalers and other prescribed medications exactly according to instructions. In addition, reducing exposure to potential irritants is beneficial. Choose a low-dust or non-clay cat litter. Avoid smoking in the house or using the fireplace. Choose products that do not contain heavy perfumes or deodorizers. When using hair sprays or cleaning sprays, make sure the cat is out of the area first. You may wish to consider an air purifier. Keeping a log of your cat’s asthma episodes can help you to identify some of the triggers so that they can be avoided.

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Bladder Infections

True bacterial bladder infections are pretty uncommon in younger cats (less than 10 years old), but they do occur. They are more common in older cats because they may be secondary to other...

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True bacterial bladder infections are pretty uncommon in younger cats (less than 10 years old), but they do occur. They are more common in older cats because they may be secondary to other age-related disease processes. The symptoms of bacterial bladder infection are the same as those seen with feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and may include straining to urinate, inappropriate urination (out of the litter box), licking at the prepuce or vulva excessively, and obvious blood in the urine. Bladder infections can lead to crystal formation and urethral blockage, a life-threatening emergency situation.

When a cat appears with related symptoms, it should be examined by the veterinarian as soon as possible. A urinalysis, blood panel, and x-ray are performed as an initial diagnostic profile. A urine sample is collected by the veterinarian in order to perform the urinalysis (UA). Care should be taken to avoid contaminating the sample with artifact. The “cleanest” method of collection is called a cystocentesis – passing a very fine needle through the abdominal wall directly into the bladder. Less ideal respectively are passing a urinary catheter and collecting a voided sample, since contaminate may be introduced from outside of the body.

The urine sample is analyzed for blood, inflammatory cells, bacteria, and crystals. A specific gravity measures urine dilution caused by increased water consumption or kidney dysfunction. A reagent dipstick tests for nitrite (bacterial metabolite), pH, glucose (to screen for diabetes), and bilirubin (produced by the liver). A portion of the sample is centrifuged to separate solids from the urine such as cells, casts of the renal (kidney) tubules, bacteria, and crystals. This material is called urine sediment. Bacteria observed in the sediment are diagnostic for infection but are not always observed.

The urine may be sent to a reference laboratory for a culture and susceptibility (C&S). The sample is incubated in a special agar or broth, a food medium to grow bacteria. When bacterial growth is present, the organisms are isolated and tested to determine their species. Then they are exposed to a battery of antibiotics on a susceptibility disc. This information will tell the doctor which antibiotic to prescribe and what dose will be effective. Also, the C&S will give some idea as to how the infection will respond to treatment.

Abdominal x-rays are taken to check for the presence of bladder and kidney stones, especially if crystals are found in the urine sediment. If bladder stones are discovered, they must be removed or dissolved if possible. The stones will harbor bacteria and make resolution of the infection impossible. X-rays can also reveal a congenital defect in the bladder wall called a persistent urachus. This is a remnant of the tube that connected the bladder to the umbilicus before birth. It can also harbor bacteria and make the infection persist despite antibiotic therapy.

A blood count and chemistry panel will help determine whether the bladder infection is secondary to underlying organ dysfunction. Kidney disease is very common in older cats.

When your veterinarian prescribes an antibiotic for your cat’s bladder infection, is critical to give it as instructed. Antibiotic resistance is a real problem in bladder infections. Also, a urinalysis should be repeated at the end of the treatment period to gauge the response to the antibiotic. If time lapses between treatment and rechecking, the infection may recur, causing the need to repeat diagnostics.

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Bladder Stones

The occurrence of bladder stones is not uncommon in our feline friends and can lead to serious discomfort and even secondary problems if not treated. These stones are rock-like minerals that form in...

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The occurrence of bladder stones is not uncommon in our feline friends and can lead to serious discomfort and even secondary problems if not treated. These stones are rock-like minerals that form in your cats urinary bladder. There can be several small gravel-sized stones or large single stones in the bladder. In this handout, we will discuss the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of bladderstones in cats.

It is normally not difficult to detect that your cat is experiencing discomfort related to their urinary tract. The two most common signs of bladder stones are hematuria and dysuria. The former symptom involves the presence of blood in your cats urine while dysuria is a term used to describe when your cat is straining to urinate. If you notice that your cat is having difficulty urinating, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian. If possible, try to collect a fresh urine sample in a clean plastic cup to bring with you to the veterinary practice. Although these symptoms are good indicators, cats with bladder infections (without stones) can exhibit hematuria and dysuria. Urine outside a perfectly clean litter box or in other areas of the house may be another sign of urinary tract distress.

The build up of bladder stones can lead to serious pain and your pet may even cry out when trying to urinate. It is important to catch this condition early, so that surgery or secondary infections can be avoided and additional stones will not form. Your veterinarian will want to perform a laboratory evaluation of your cats urine and will also palpate the urinary bladder to see if stones can be felt. In many cases, your veterinarian may want to take x-rays or ultrasound your cat to search for bladder stones.

If it is determined that your pet has bladder stones, your veterinarian will recommend the appropriate treatment. In serious cases where larger stones are involved, or stones that are unlikely to dissolve with other therapies, surgery may be necessary. Removing bladder stones involves opening the abdomen and urinary bladder and it will take your cat several days to recover. Certain types of bladder stones can be dissolved with special prescription diets and your veterinarian will notify you if this is an option. If diet therapy is chosen, it is very important that you follow the exact diet regiment as outlined by the veterinary staff. It can take several weeks to months to fully dissolve bladder stones and your veterinarian will want to follow-up with your cats treatment until the stones are eliminated.

Once you have eliminated your cats bladder stones, there are steps that can be taken to prevent future occurrence. Maintaining your cat on a special diet may be indicated and your veterinarian may want to perform follow-up urinalysis, x-rays or ultrasound to detect recurrence. Non invasive investigation and careful monitoring can detect this problem early can help to avoid surgery!

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Blocked Tomcat – Urinary Obstruction

The term “blocked tomcat” or “blocked tom” refers to the obstruction of normal urine output from the urinary bladder through the urethra. Because of differences in male cats’ urethral anatomy, this condition occurs more frequently in tomcats and is thusly named; but it can sometimes occur in female cats as well. When urine cannot be eliminated from the body, the bladder becomes painfully...

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The term “blocked tomcat” or “blocked tom” refers to the obstruction of normal urine output from the urinary bladder through the urethra. Because of differences in male cats’ urethral anatomy, this condition occurs more frequently in tomcats and is thusly named; but it can sometimes occur in female cats as well. When urine cannot be eliminated from the body, the bladder becomes painfully distended and post-renal kidney failure occurs. Toxins are left to accumulate in the bloodstream causing subsequent harmful effects on the brain, heart, and other organ systems. Urine obstruction is a life-threatening condition and can result in permanent kidney damage or death if not quickly corrected. This is truly a medical emergency!

Abnormal urine sediments in the form of inflammatory cells, blood, mucous, bacteria, and urinary crystals can become clumped together and collect at a narrowing in the urethra. Male cats’ urethras taper toward the opening at the prepuce making them especially susceptible to forming a “plug” which obstructs normal urination. All of the constituents of a urinary plug can be the result of a true bacterial infection or a complicated disorder called Feline (Idiopathic) Lower Urinary Tract Disease, or FLUTD. More than half of cats over 10 years of age with FLUTD will have an undetermined, or idiopathic, cause of the disease. Nonetheless, a blocked urethra is a serious possible consequence.

The term “blocked tom” has been replaced for the most part by the “obstructive form of FLUTD” to describe any cat, male or female, with this life-threatening problem.

To understand all of the harmful consequences of urine obstruction, it is important to realize the normal function of the urinary tract. The kidneys’ primary purpose is to eliminate waste while conserving water. These organs filter by-products of metabolism from the bloodstream and concentrate the toxins into as little water as possible, producing urine. Urine is produced twenty-four hours a day and flows constantly from the kidneys through tiny tubes called ureters into the bladder. The bladder stores urine temporarily until it is eliminated outside of the body through the urethra which terminates at the external genitalia.

When urine obstruction occurs, the first problem is a matter of storage. As the bladder cannot empty, its normal capacity is exceeded. This is a very painful condition which causes the cat to frequent the litter pan to attempt to urinate without success. Straining to urinate can sometimes be confused with constipation. The cat may howl in discomfort, lick at the urethral opening, and repeatedly assume the position to urinate. In rare cases, the bladder can rupture; although most cats will succumb to other harmful consequences of urine obstruction before this occurs.

The next consequence is the effect of kidney failure that occurs when back pressure from the bladder causes urine production in the kidneys to cease. Uremia and azotemia describe the build up of urinary waste products in the bloodstream. These toxins can cause ulceration of the stomach lining or esophagus and lead to vomiting and appetite loss. The electrolyte potassium, which is normally excreted by the kidneys, can reach dangerous levels causing heart arrhythmias or cardiac arrest. On a blood-chemistry panel, the obstructed cat’s kidney function values may be extremely elevated. Only after restoring normal urine production and flow will it become clear whether permanent kidney damage has occurred and how significant the damage will be.

Finally, the bladder muscle that controls urine storage and elimination can be stretched to the point of long-term damage. Even after treatment, the cat may have problems being able to urinate normally.

Because it can be difficult to ascertain at home whether or not the cat can urinate normally (a urinary tract infection can mimic an obstruction because both involve straining to urinate, however, with infection the cat will pass small amounts of urine because the urethra is not obstructed), any cat suspected of urinary obstruction should be dealt with on an emergency basis. If the bladder is distended, the veterinarian will relieve the obstruction with urethral catheterization. This will immediately restore kidney urine flow and help to eliminate toxins from the bloodstream.

To remove the urethral obstruction, the cat will most likely require a general anesthetic to alleviate pain and facilitate treatment. The veterinarian will decide if the cat is stable enough to receive an anesthetic, as some cats may not be suitable candidates. In most cases, a small catheter can be used in a technique called hydropropulsion to force the urethral plug back up into the bladder using pressurized sterile saline. This will also help to break up the plug so that it can pass along with the urine. While under anesthesia, the veterinarian will take abdominal x-rays or perform an ultrasound to rule out bladder and kidney stones that may need to be removed surgically or dissolved with dietary modification after the cat has been stabilized. Finally, a small rubber catheter will be sutured in place in the urethra and left for 1 to 3 days to allow proper urine output.

During hospitalization, and until the cat is stable, intravenous fluids will be administered through an IV catheter to improve hydration, restore electrolyte balance, and dilute toxins in the bloodstream. This process is called diuresis. The cat’s kidney values, electrolytes, and other blood chemistries will be rechecked several times to verify systemic recovery and assess long-term damage.

Over the next several days and weeks, the underlying problems that lead to urine obstruction will be addressed. Antibiotics will be administered to treat and prevent bacterial infections, and drugs to improve muscle tone within the bladder may also be given. Special diets that change the pH of the urine may be prescribed to keep a urethral plug from reforming. There are drugs that can alter the pH of the urine as well.

Occasionally, a male cat may require a surgical procedure called a perineal urethrostomy to prevent recurring obstructions. This involves shortening and widening the urethra to allow urethral plugs and other potentially obstructing materials to be eliminated without travelling through the narrowed portion of the urethra in the penis. Cats receiving this procedure may still have recurring urinary tract disease but hopefully will not become obstructed in the future. The larger opening created in the urethra may make ascending bacterial infections more likely to occur after the procedure is done, but these are easier to deal with than a life-threatening emergency.

Preventing urinary obstructions from forming is a difficult endeavor. Commercial cat food manufacturers and veterinary specialists continually research the role that dietary constituents play in FLUTD. Your veterinarian is the best source for current feeding recommendations. In general, most experts agree that increasing water intake by offering canned food may be beneficial, but even cats fed strictly canned diets may develop a urinary obstruction.

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Cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death in senior cats. As we already know, this is a very serious disease that can affect virtually all areas of your cat’s body. However, the spread of cancer is more...

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Cancer is the leading cause of death in senior cats. As we already know, this is a very serious disease that can affect virtually all areas of your cat’s body. However, the spread of cancer is more rapid when certain areas of the body are reached, such as the lungs or liver. There are too many forms of cancer to discuss in this handout; so instead, we will discuss various signs that you can be mindful of and the veterinary options available.

There are many symptoms to watch for that might indicate your pet has developed a cancer. It is important to realize that many of these symptoms can be related to several other illnesses, so do not assume your cat has cancer until he has been officially diagnosed by a veterinarian. Unexplained weight loss, abdominal distention, respiratory distress, difficulty swallowing, changes in bowel consistency (diarrhea or constipation), blood or mucous in the stool, unusual bleeding or discharge, lameness, growths that can be felt through your pets skin and any areas of skin discoloration should be reported to your veterinarian. Remember that these symptoms are merely indicators that you should bring your cat to see the veterinarian.

Unfortunately, there are no blood tests to determine whether or not cancer is present in our cats. Therefore, acquiring a sample of the tumor through biopsy is often necessary and this sample is normally sent off to a specialized pathologist for microscopic examination. Many cancers can be cured if caught early enough and if the lump is small enough to surgically remove. Even after a lump is removed, your veterinarian may wish to send the sample to a pathologist to ensure that the margins of the growth are cancer free.

If your cat is diagnosed with cancer, many of the same treatment options available to humans are also available for pets. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for pets is offered at most veterinary specialty practices in major metropolitan areas. Your veterinarian will be able to share more information about these treatment options with you. It is important to understand that these therapies are costly and some forms of cancer are more easily treated than others. If chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy are not an option, your cat can be treated symptomatically, and depending on how aggressive the cancer is, your cat may be able to live for several months to years. Other medications and therapeutic options will be outlined by your veterinarian.

There are steps that can be taken to avoid cancers. Having your pet spayed or neutered will drastically decrease the chances of various reproductive cancers. Feeding your cat a high quality diet and keeping him at a healthy weight will also help to prevent certain cancers. Obesity is a major cause of many cancers in pets. It is impossible to prevent all cancers and genetics also play a role in this disease. If you have any additional questions about a specific cancer or are concerned about your cat, please do not hesitate to discuss this with your veterinarian.

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Caring for Your Cat’s Teeth

We all know how important good dental hygiene is for our own health, but many cat owners are unaware that this is true for their pets too. Dental disease is one of the most common preventable...

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We all know how important good dental hygiene is for our own health, but many cat owners are unaware that this is true for their pets too. Dental disease is one of the most common preventable illnesses in pets, affecting more than 75% of dogs and cats over three years of age. Infections of the teeth and gums can cause pain, loose teeth, and damage to internal organs like the kidneys and heart. All of this can be avoided by practicing proper dental care techniques.

Dental Disease in Cats
The term dental disease includes a variety of ailments. The most common of these is periodontitis. Plaque, a soft mixture of bacteria, food, and saliva accumulates on your cats teeth, especially near the gums. The plaque hardens to become tartar. The plaque and tartar irritate the tissues around the tooth and its root. This starts out as gingivitis (reddened gums). Infections and abscesses develop around the tooth, resulting in bad breath, bleeding, pain, and tooth loss. Infected, bleeding gums allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body, damaging the kidneys and heart.

Another common condition in cats is Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs). This is a big word for kitty cavities that occur on the sides of the teeth, near the gum line. They cause the tooth to erode, exposing the pulp to infection or causing the tooth to break. They are also associated with severe inflammation of the gums. Unlike cavities in people, the cause of FORLs is not well understood. Fluoride may have a preventive benefit. If your cat develops a kitty cavity your veterinarian will advise you about the necessary treatment and care, which may include tooth restoration or extraction.

Dental Examinations
Each time your cat has a routine physical examination, your veterinarian will check his teeth and gums. He is looking for buildup of plaque or tartar, reddened gums (gingivitis), bleeding, broken teeth, and other problems. Your cat should receive a dental exam at least once or twice a year. If you notice problems like breath odor, drooling, or difficulty eating, he should be examined right away. The sooner that dental disease is identified and treated, the better the outcome.

Tooth Brushing
Brush a cats teeth? This may seem like a daunting task, but your cat can gradually learn to accept daily dental care at home. The key is to start slowly and make the experience as pleasant as possible. Place a small amount of the liquid from a can of water-packed tuna on your finger and allow him to lick it off. Repeat, this time holding his mouth closed and stroking the outside surfaces of his teeth lightly.

Eventually, over a period of one or more weeks, you can substitute a piece of gauze, a finger toothbrush, or a small, soft toothbrush instead of your finger. Remember, unless your veterinarian directs you otherwise, you only need to clean the outside tooth surfaces. This reduces the chance of a painful bite! Once your cat comfortably accepts the brushing process, you can introduce toothpastes designed for pets in place of the tuna water.

The most important aspect of tooth brushing is the mechanical action, but toothpastes can add helpful ingredients like fluoride, enzymes that help break down plaque, and antiseptics that prevent bacterial growth. They are flavored to please your cats palate too. Never use toothpaste designed for people the ingredients may irritate your cats mouth and cause an upset stomach.

Plaque begins to develop within hours after brushing. Within about three days, plaque is converted into tartar. Therefore, daily brushing is recommended. Less frequent brushing is still beneficial, but may allow the gradual development of periodontitis. A daily brushing routine not only keeps your pets mouth healthy but also keeps his breath smelling fresh.

Professional Care
Most cats require professional dental cleanings and periodontal care periodically. If your veterinarian detects signs of gingivitis or tartar accumulation during the exam, he will recommend a professional cleaning in order to halt the progress of periodontal disease.

Your cat will receive anesthesia for the dental cleaning. All surfaces of the tooth will be carefully cleaned, even below the gum line. The teeth will be polished to discourage deposition of new plaque. Fluoride or other preventive treatments may be applied. Because your cat is asleep, his mouth can be inspected carefully for signs of additional problems. The professional cleaning is the only way to stop the progress of periodontal disease once tartar has formed.

Treats, Chews, and Other Products
A variety of products are marketed to help keep your cats teeth clean at home. These include dental care diets, plaque reducing treats and toys, and solutions that are applied to your cats mouth. Check with your veterinarian before using these products, because some may be unsafe or may interfere with other treatments your cat is receiving. Also, remember that although these products may be of some benefit, there is no substitute for daily tooth brushing.

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Cat Bite Wounds and Abscesses

Cats are highly territorial and often fight when they meet outside or, less commonly, within the household. During fights, cats inflict deep bite wounds that inject bacteria from the mouth into the...

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Cats are highly territorial and often fight when they meet outside or, less commonly, within the household. During fights, cats inflict deep bite wounds that inject bacteria from the mouth into the internal tissues. Cat bite wounds frequently become infected and abscessed. An abscess is a pocket of infection that the body has walled off.

Signs of Abscesses
If you know your cat has been in a fight, its a good idea to examine him carefully for signs of injury. Bite wounds may leave only tiny puncture holes on the skin. Veterinary care is always recommended for cat bite wounds. More often, you wont know that your cat has been fighting until an abscess forms. Signs of an abscess include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, pain and the appearance of a swollen area. Hair may be lost in the area, and the skin may rupture, leaking foul-swelling pus onto the fur. The most common areas for bite wounds and abscesses are the face, legs, and the base of the tail.

How Abscesses are Diagnosed
Your veterinarian can usually diagnose the abscess based on a physical exam. It may be necessary to shave hair from parts of the body to look for bite wounds.

Abscess Treatment
Cats typically require anesthesia for initial drainage and cleansing of the infected area. All of the pus and dead tissue will be removed. The wound is encouraged to heal without trapping bacteria under the skin again. This usually means that the wound is left open so that the internal tissues heal first, before the skin. Drains may be placed temporarily under the skin. In addition to giving oral medications, it may be necessary for you to administer topical antiseptics or antibiotics directly to the wound area. Hot packing the area with a warm, wet washcloth for 5-10 minutes twice daily is also beneficial. Most cats heal well with proper treatment.

Even though an untreated abscess usually ruptures and drains on its own, recurrence is extremely common without professional care. Cats with abscesses can also get sick enough to stop eating and become severely dehydrated. Prompt medical attention is a must for all cat bite wounds and abscesses.

Biting is the most common means by which some serious cat diseases are spread. Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and Rabies can all be spread by bites. If your cat goes outside he should be vaccinated against FeLV and Rabies. Your veterinarian may also advise testing for exposure to FeLV and FIV after a bite.

Preventing Abscesses
The main mechanism for preventing abscesses is keeping cats indoors, where they are less likely to fight. Routinely checking your cat for injuries is also a good idea.

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Considerations in Choosing Your New Cat

Caring for a cat brings many years of unconditional companionship and joy to our lives. Choosing the right cat for your home is essential to avoid behavioral problems that can make for a rocky...

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Caring for a cat brings many years of unconditional companionship and joy to our lives. Choosing the right cat for your home is essential to avoid behavioral problems that can make for a rocky relationship with your pet. Whether to adopt a kitten or an adult cat, take in a stray, select a male or a female, or have more than one cat are just a couple of the important questions to ask before making a decision that will last 15 to 20 years.

Many behavioral problems (not health related) with adult cats stem from improper socialization at a very young age. This should be realized when taking in an abandoned kitten that may not be fully weaned. If possible, a kitten this young should be introduced to adult cats as soon as possible in order to receive socialization skills and discipline that a human can not communicate. Bottle raised kittens have reputations for being aggressive toward people and other pets.

All healthy kittens are playful and silly. Their antics are necessary practice for learning hunting skills. Being nocturnal animals, kittens may practice a lot at night while you are trying to sleep. A cat’s true personality is not well revealed to an owner until adulthood. While having a kitten can be a lot of fun, some owners may choose to adopt an adult cat with an easy going, calm demeanor and forego the rambunctious kitten stage.

Whether to choose a male or female cat is a purely personal preference. Some people’s personalities better mesh with one or the other. Spend time with numerous cats of both sexes to see if you prefer one over another. Males may tend to be a little more social with people and other pets, but this stereotype does not always hold true.

Cats adopted from shelters are usually mixed breeds. If you want to purchase a specific cat breed, be sure to do some research about any health problems or behaviors to which the cat may be predisposed. You will also want to get references from the breeder to be sure they are reputable. Consider the hundreds of thousands of homeless kitties in shelters each year before purchasing a cat just because you like the markings or body shape.

Two cats can give each other company, but three or more cats can lead to conflicts. Cats have strict hierarchies and territories. Introducing a new cat into the multiple cat household can upset the established boundaries. A trial adoption may want to be considered, if possible, to test the cats’ interactions.

Of course, it is most important to be sure that a new cat is healthy. It should have a thorough veterinary examination before taking it home and exposing other pets. The cat’s eyes will be bright and clear, and its coat will be shiny and well groomed. There should be no discharge from the nose, eyes, or ears. Stools should be formed. The doctor will check the cat for intestinal parasites, viral diseases like leukemia, and external parasites like ear mites and ringworm.

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Cystitis and Stones

Problems of the bladder and urethra are all too common in pet cats. The lower urinary tract can be a site for inflammation, infection, stones, and obstructions. Together, these conditions are...

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Problems of the bladder and urethra are all too common in pet cats. The lower urinary tract can be a site for inflammation, infection, stones, and obstructions. Together, these conditions are referred to as Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS) or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Signs that your cat may have lower urinary tract disease include difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, or urinating in inappropriate locations.

Feline Cystitis
Cystitis means inflammation of the bladder. In dogs, its often due to an infection. Although infection does occur in cats, up to 60% of cases of feline cystitis are idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown. Possible causes such as viruses and stress are being researched by major veterinary colleges.

Cats with cystitis urinate frequently, producing small amounts of blood-tinged urine. They may cry or appear to be in pain when urinating. Cats with any of these signs should see the veterinarian for a physical examination and urinalysis. The urinalysis can detect infection and other problems. If an infection is found, a urine culture will help identify the best antibiotic to treat it. In cases of chronic or recurrent cystitis, x-rays may be taken to get more information about the condition of the bladder.

Infections of the bladder are treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for idiopathic cystitis. Changing the diet so that the cat takes in more water and alters the urine pH is often helpful. Reducing stress is also a good idea. Medications are often given to ease discomfort and manage secondary infections. Most cats recover from idiopathic cystitis within a week or so, but recurrence is common.

Urinary Stones
Urinary stones (uroliths) can be a serious, even life-threatening, problem. Uroliths are composed of crystallized minerals, such as struvite, oxalate, urate, or cystine. They can be found anywhere in the urinary tract. In the bladder, they cause irritation, increasing the likelihood of cystitis or bacterial infections. In the urethra, they can cause an obstruction, making urination impossible. The resulting accumulation of urine in the bladder prevents the kidneys from continuing to cleanse the blood. Death can result within days. Male and female cats get uroliths with equal frequency, but urethral obstruction is more common in males due to their narrower urethras.

Cats suffering from uroliths have signs similar to cystitis. However, cats that are obstructed also strain to urinate, without producing urine. It may appear as though the cat is constipated. As time goes on, the cat may vomit, have a tender abdomen, and become comatose. A cat straining to urinate but producing no urine should be seen by your veterinarian immediately.

Diagnosis of urolithiasis is based on a physical exam and urinalysis. X-rays, ultrasound and blood tests may also be beneficial. For proper treatment, the veterinarian must identify the mineral content of the stones, either by finding crystals on the urinalysis or by collecting stones via urinary catheterization or surgery.

Some stones can be dissolved with special diets or flushed out of the bladder through a urinary catheter, but others require surgical removal. Urethral obstruction is an emergency condition requiring hospitalization. A surgery called a perineal urethrostomy is sometimes recommended for male cats that become obstructed repeatedly. This surgery widens the cats urethra, making blockage less likely.

Around 60% of uroliths in cats are composed of struvite. Cats with a history of struvite urolithiasis should be fed diets that are low in magnesium and that create urine with an acid pH. No other foods or treats should be given. The second most common type of urolith is calcium oxalate. Cats with a history of oxalate urolithiasis are fed diets with reduced levels of protein and oxalate. These diets create urine that is less acidic.

It is also a good idea to encourage cats to urinate regularly by providing adequate numbers of clean litter boxes.

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Declawing Your Cat

The decision to declaw your cat can be a difficult and emotional dilemma. There are many opinions on the subject ranging from adamantly against the procedure, citing cruelty, to a necessity to ensure ...

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The decision to declaw your cat can be a difficult and emotional dilemma. There are many opinions on the subject ranging from adamantly against the procedure, citing cruelty, to a necessity to ensure cats don’t wind up on the street or in shelters. Education on the matter is the best way to ensure that an informed decision is made, and that the cat is not subjected to inhumane treatment. Advancements in pain management techniques have improved declawing outcomes greatly, and tens of thousands of declawed cats live comfortable, normal lives with no ill effect from the procedure.

Cats have retractable claws. Their “fingers” have three bones and joints just like ours. The individual bones are called phalanges. Human fingers can only be flexed toward the palm and relaxed into a straight, pointing position. The last or third phalanx of a cat can be extended upward as well as flexed downward. At rest, the third phalanx and toenail are retracted upward off of the ground. This means the cat does not bear weight on the last bone while standing. For this reason, the last bone can be amputated without affecting the cat’s ability to stand. This is not as true for the rear feet, because most cats bear partial weight on the rear third phalanges. And, when propelling themselves forward, the rear toes flex downward in order to gain traction. Most veterinarians agree that cats’ rear feet should not be declawed. Most complications occur from declawing the rear feet.

Declawing is a surgical procedure performed under a general anesthetic. Pre-operative blood work is done to rule out subclinical infection, anemia, and clotting deficiency. There are several techniques employed to declaw a cat. It is up to the veterinarian to choose the technique with which they are most comfortable and familiar. The doctor may use a scalpel, a guillotine blade, or a laser to perform the amputation of the third phalanx. The incision may either be sutured or closed with tissue adhesive. The feet are then wrapped with a light compression bandage and the cat is confined to cage rest for 12 to 24 hours after surgery.

The pain management protocol that is used during a declaw greatly influences the outcome, both short-term and long-term, after surgery. The specific drugs and techniques are again up to the veterinarian. Opiates such as Fentanyl, morphine, and buprenorphine are given before surgery to block pain and provide a comfortable recovery. Injections may be repeated after the declaw, and they are sometimes combined with an NSAID injection to utilize a multi-modal approach to pain control. Carpal ring blocks and digital blocks provide analgesia by injecting long-acting local anesthetics like bupivacaine around the regional nerves associated with the feet. This can last for as long as 8 hours after surgery. A Fentanyl trans-dermal patch or oral opiates are sent home with the cat to provide extended pain control. Symptoms of pain include hiding and refusing food. Be sure to let your veterinarian know if you suspect your cat is in pain.

Complications from declawing can be bleeding, infection, limping, and re-growth of the toenail when the nail bed was not adequately excised.

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Ear Problems

The most common ear problem in cats is inflammation of the outer ear, technically termed otitis externa. The area between the outside opening and the eardrum can be irritated by infections,...

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The most common ear problem in cats is inflammation of the outer ear, technically termed otitis externa. The area between the outside opening and the eardrum can be irritated by infections, parasites, allergies and foreign objects.

Signs of Ear Problems
Signs of irritation include scratching, shaking the head, and reacting painfully when the ears are touched. You may also see discharge. Ear hematomas are common if irritation goes untreated. Depending on the cause, one or both of the ears may be affected.

How Ear Problems are Diagnosed
Your veterinarian will use an otoscope to look into the ears. He will also take a sample of ear discharge and examine it microscopically to check for signs of infection or ear mites. If infection is present, the sample may be sent to a lab for culture. Cultures provide information about the kinds of bacteria present and the medications that can help. During the examination, the veterinarian may also see foreign objects such as foxtails in the ear canal. If your cat’s ears are very painful, sedation or anesthesia may be required.

Common Causes of Ear Problems
Some pets are prone to ear problems due to anatomy, allergies, or skin conditions. The lining of the ear canal, like the rest of the skin, normally contains small amounts of bacteria and yeast. These organisms are harmless unless they multiply out of control. Overgrowth causes irritation, inflammation, foul odor and discharge. Chronic infection can lead to damage to ear tissues, including rupture of the ear drum. If the ear drum is ruptured, the infection can gain access to the middle and inner ear, causing serious problems like head tilt, loss of balance, and inability to walk normally.

Parasites in the ear include ear mites and ticks. Ear mites are tiny creatures that are just barely visible with the naked eye. They are quite contagious between animals. They cause severe itching and produce large amounts of black, waxy discharge. Pets with ear mites scratch their ears incessantly. This can lead to ear or skin infections as well as damage to deeper ear structures. Ticks can attach to the inside of the ears. They may irritate the ears or obstruct the canal, preventing normal ventilation and interfering with hearing.

The most common foreign bodies in the ears are foxtails or grass awns. These pointy seeds get caught in pet’s fur and gradually work their way into the skin, nose, ears, and paws where they can cause major damage. Foxtails in the ears are very irritating. If they are not removed, they can penetrate the ear drum.

Treatment for Ear Problems
The first step in treating ear problems is a thorough cleaning of the ears. This may require sedation or anesthesia. Once the ears are clean, specific medications are prescribed. Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections, antifungals for yeast, anti-inflammatories for irritation and allergies, and insecticides for ear mites. Most of the medications are administered directly into your cat’s ears, proper administration is crucial for effective treatment. Medication must be given exactly as instructed and continued for the full duration prescribed, even if the pet seems to be fully recovered sooner.

The final step is to minimize the factors that can put pets at higher risk for ear problems. Skin problems and allergies may respond to dietary supplements, antihistamines, or anti-inflammatories. Routine ear cleaning with a product recommended by your veterinarian can also help. Avoid allowing pets in areas that contain foxtails and check for foxtails when they return from outdoors. If signs of ear problems recur, seek prompt medical attention before the condition worsens.

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Elimination Behaviors

Throughout their lives, many household cats will experience some problem with elimination behaviors. These behaviors may include urinating, defecating or scent marking outside of their litter box....

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Throughout their lives, many household cats will experience some problem with elimination behaviors. These behaviors may include urinating, defecating or scent marking outside of their litter box. Although the causes for these behaviors vary greatly, most stem from medical issues, litter and litter box aversions, or stress caused by changes to environmental factors. In order to diagnose and correct the behavior it is important to determine the underlying cause behind the new behavior.

There are many different medical conditions that may cause your pet to begin eliminating in unwanted areas. It is important for your veterinarian to perform a complete examination and, perhaps, other tests to determine if there is a medical condition that would precipitate the behavior. Some of the medical conditions that your veterinarian would look for are diseases of the urinary tract, liver, kidneys or endocrine system. Many of these diseases can cause pain when urinating or may cause increased fluid intake and excretion. Other diseases of the colon and digestive tract may also cause defecation problems. When examining your cat for medical causes, your veterinarian will also look for limitations in motor and mobility functions. If your pet is having difficulty with its senses, joints or other muscular issues it may not be able to access its current litter box as easily and, therefore, result in unwanted elimination behaviors.

At times, some cats may experience an aversion to their current litter or litter boxes. These aversions may be due to smell, size or the tactile sensation. If your pet has started to eliminate in unwanted areas, analyze where the behavior occurs, the type of substrate, the time of day, and the frequency with which the animal demonstrates the behavior. Your pet may demonstrate these behaviors if the litter box is located in an undesirable area. Area that are considered undesirable vary by pet, but are often high traffic areas, areas that are far away from all family members, such as basements, or areas that are inhabited by many pets. Determine the type of substrate your pet prefers to eliminate on, such as hard surfaces or on carpet. Some pet owners notice that their pets only practice the unwanted elimination behaviors at specific times of day, such as when the owners are preparing to leave or when a child returns home from school. Other animals may demonstrate these behaviors when their box is cleaned, due to an aversion to the scent of the cleaners used.

In order to minimize unwanted elimination behaviors it may be necessary to try many different combinations of location, litter and box, until your cat is satisfied with its new litter box. Begin by offering your pet two litter boxes. One box should remain in the current location and the other should present a new option of box, litter or location. Once your pet demonstrates a preference for a new choices, change the first box to that choice and keep offering new options with the second. This process will allow you to find the perfect match for your pet.

Some ideas for determining different animals preferences include: For a cat that location appears to be the problem, work to move the new box to a quite are of the home. If your pet prefers to eliminate on a specific type of substrate, mimic that feeling in the litter box. For example, for a cat that prefers to eliminate on tile, linoleum, or another hard surface, line the litter box with newspaper or a fine layer of litter over plastic; for a cat that prefers carpet, line the rim of the box with carpet and place a fluffy litter inside; and for a cat that prefers eliminating in plants, use a sand or very fine litter. For a cat that may be experiencing physical conditions such as muscle pains, experiment with low sided boxes or ramps. Some cats crave privacy and will only eliminate in boxes with hoods, while others feel that they may be ambushed and will not enter a box that is covered. The key to determining your cats preferences is to slowly and patiently analyze your pets behavior and choices. Continue to work with your cat and offer new choices, until you and your pet are satisfied with the perfect combination.

During the process of determining the best elimination scenario, it may be necessary to confine your pet when you are not able to be present and supervise its behaviors. If confinement is necessary, be sure to choose a secure location where the animal has not inappropriately eliminated in the past and provide comfortable bedding, food, water and a litter pan with the preferred substrate. As you find the right combination of elements and your pet begins to eliminate appropriately, the confinement periods should be able to be eliminated.

When analyzing the cause of your pets behavior, be sure to look for factors that may cause stress elimination. Cats are very sensitive to changes in their territory and may stress easily. Strong stress factors such as new pets, a new baby or the loss of a family member may trigger unwanted elimination episodes. Other factors such as new furniture, changes in routine or moving may also cause issues. Finding the perfect combination for your pet, may take time and patience, but your beloved pet will soon be demonstrating model behavior.

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Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex

Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex (EGC) is not a specific disease. Instead, the term is used to describe three types of skin lesions that occur on cats. The cells involved in the pathology of the...

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Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex (EGC) is not a specific disease. Instead, the term is used to describe three types of skin lesions that occur on cats. The cells involved in the pathology of the lesions (eosinophils) and the mass that is comprised of them (granuloma) lend the condition its name. The lesions can occur anywhere on the cat’s body, and their location and appearance differentiate them into three groups: indolent ulcers, eosinophilic plaques, and eosinophilic granulomas.

There may be numerous causes of EGC, and the exact mechanism of their formation is not completely understood. Eosinophils are white blood cells that are involved in allergic and inflammatory responses. They phagocytize (consume) antigens contained in bacteria, parasites, and viruses. EGC is thought to be immune mediated, and may occur in response to hypersensitivities to insect bites (mosquitoes), food allergies, and inhalant allergies. The lesions can mimic many other dermatologic conditions, and because treatment will include the use of immunosuppressive drugs, other disease processes must be ruled out. The presence of large numbers of eosinophils on a biopsy, and a typical clinical appearance of the lesions confirm a diagnosis.

Indolent ulcers, misleadingly nicknamed rodent ulcers, most often occur on the inside of the upper lips. They are not associated with rodents at all. The tissue will be inflamed, raised, and smooth. The ulcers can occur on one or both sides of the mouth. In the case of indolent ulcers, biopsy is usually not diagnostic, but it is used to rule out neoplasia (cancer) when non responsive to treatment.

Eosinophilic plaques can occur anywhere on the skin, but are most often found on the inner thighs and groin. They appear as raised, round, bright red, and hairless masses that are especially itchy. The lesions are ulcerated from self-trauma and may become secondarily infected by bacteria. The circulating eosinophil count in the blood stream will probably be elevated.

Eosinophilic granulomas are found between the toes, on the tongue, and on the roof of the mouth. These ulcerative lesions are raised and crusty on the skin, and erosive in the mouth. They are bright red and may bleed easily. They are not thought to be itchy, but cats may cause self-trauma from over grooming the skin lesions and may stop eating if the lesion is in the mouth. Eosinophils will be elevated in circulation and prevalent in the biopsied tissue.

Treatment for EGC begins by ruling out and treating any underlying disease that may be a contributing factor. Secondary bacterial infection is addressed with oral and topical antibiotics. An Elizabethan collar may be used to prevent self trauma. Immunosuppressive drugs like prednisone and other steroids are prescribed specifically for EGC, and may be given for weeks until response is seen. A tapering or pulse dosing is sometimes required to prevent recurrence of the lesions.

For EGC that responds poorly to steroid therapy, immuno-modulating drugs may be used. Certain antibiotics have this effect, and may be prescribed for 2 to 4 weeks. Chlorambucil is the most common immuno-modulator drug used in refractory EGC.

Omega fatty acid supplements may also improve lesions to some degree. They may reduce the steroid dose required during treatment, decreasing the chance of side effects from these drugs.

In very young cats, EGC lesions may spontaneously resolve without treatment. The prognosis for older cats is more guarded, and they may require on going steroid therapy to keep the lesions in remission.

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Fatty Liver Syndrome

Cats are carnivores, getting their nutrition from numerous small meals of lean protein throughout the day. Feral cats depend on insects, rodents, small birds, and reptiles as their source of food....

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Cats are carnivores, getting their nutrition from numerous small meals of lean protein throughout the day. Feral cats depend on insects, rodents, small birds, and reptiles as their source of food. There is no reason for a cat in the wild to maintain heavy fat stores for energy. Domesticated cats on the other hand have food bowls filled and their sedentary lifestyle makes them prone to obesity.

When cats become sick for any reason, it is common for them to stop eating. The body switches metabolic modes to start burning fat stores, and it is not in a cat’s design to do this properly. The liver, which should break the fat down into lipoproteins for energy, instead becomes infiltrated with fat and begins to fail. This is called hepatic lipidosis. Liver cells erupt and release the enzymes alkaline phosphatase (SAP) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) into the blood stream. Bilirubin cannot be metabolized and excreted through the bile duct, causing jaundice of the mucous membranes. These enzymes will be elevated on blood tests. A biopsy will confirm the fat deposits in the liver if the cat is a candidate for surgery. Many times they are too sick to risk anesthesia, so an ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspirate of the liver may be taken to provide a definitive diagnosis. Diagnosis can also be based on history, clinical signs and laboratory results if neither of these diagnostic procedures is available. Hepatic Lipidosis can be reversed if treatment is aggressive and instituted before complete liver failure occurs. If anorexia was the only cause of the hepatic lipidosis, then the prognosis for recovery is good. Other underlying disease should be investigated if the reason for anorexia is unknown.

Hepatic lipidosis can occur in any cat that stops eating; although, typically the cat will have been overweight and reduced its caloric intake by one half or more for a period of two weeks. This can be difficult for an owner to realize (especially for free-choice feeders), and sometimes the history of anorexia is unclear.

The goal of treatment is to reverse the starvation state of metabolism. This is accomplished by giving a calculated amount of a high-protein, high-calorie diet to the cat by one of several methods. If the cat tolerates it, force feeding semi-moist canned food can be attempted. Meatballs of the food can be forced down the throat in the same manner that a pill is given. The problem with this technique is that most cats will fight it, the process is slow, most of the food ends up on the floor, and not enough calories are consumed to be effective. Just enough food may be given to keep the cat alive, but the liver will continue to fail in many cases.

Another method of delivering calories is by inserting a nasogastric feeding tube. This usually does not require anesthesia. A small diameter rubber tube is passed through one nostril, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. Liquefied food can be administered through this tube several times a day. An Elizabethan collar is worn to prevent the cat from removing the tube with a paw. Drawbacks of this method are that the food must be watered down, and thus is not calorie-dense. Also, the tube can be vomited up. When this occurs, the cat will chew off the end of the tube that is hanging out of the mouth, and the owner may not be aware. During the next feeding, liquefied food is squirted into the throat instead of the stomach; and there is a risk of aspiration into the lungs. Sometimes a nasogastric tube is used for a couple of days in order to stabilize the cat before more aggressive therapy can be started.

An esophagostomy / pharyngostomy tube is a better alternative to the nasogatric feeding tube, but it does require anesthesia to place. It is a larger bore tube that can accept blenderized food (more calorie-dense), and it is passed into the esophagus through an incision from the side of the neck. The tube is sutured and bandaged in place and is generally well tolerated. It can be left in place for weeks. This type of tube can also be vomited, so the same risk of aspiration exists as with a nasogastric tube. Also, infection can occur at the incision requiring removal of the feeding tube.

The best type of feeding tube is called a percutaneous endoscopic gastrotomy (PEG) tube. It also requires the cat to be anesthetized for placement. An incision is made through the abdominal wall and directly into the stomach. A balloon-like cuff on the end seals the tube to the stomach wall, preventing leakage of food into the abdomen. Unlike other feeding tubes, it cannot be vomited and the risk of aspiration is much lower. A PEG tube can remain in place for a year or more.

An important consideration to factor in the treatment options for hepatic lipidosis is the length of time it generally takes to reverse the starvation state and heal the liver. This typically requires three to six weeks of tube feeding. Also, the cat must begin eating on its own before supplemental feedings can be stopped. If a tube is surgically implanted, it is advised to leave it in place for several days after the cat begins eating just in case of relapse.

Around 85% of uncomplicated hepatic lipidosis cats will recover when treated aggressively.

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Feeding Your Cat

As in human nutrition, the goal of good nutrition in animals is to maximize the length and quality of life. It is very important to feed our companions a healthy and well balanced diet that meets...

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As in human nutrition, the goal of good nutrition in animals is to maximize the length and quality of life. It is very important to feed our companions a healthy and well balanced diet that meets their specific needs. Lets begin by taking a look at the nutritional needs of cats.

It is first important to remember that not all cats are the same, just like no two people are the same. Because of this, their nutritional needs can be very different. One thing all cats have in common, however, is their need for a complete and balanced diet. A complete and balanced diet means that your pet is receiving the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber and other key nutrients.

Lets examine cat foods a little closer. Complete and balanced diets, those without excesses and deficiencies, help to avoid health problems. Giving your cat the right food throughout its life helps to avoid diseases like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and of course obesity. Lets look at choosing the right food for every stage of your cats life. There are many high quality premium cat foods available, such as Hills Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba and many more. It is important to avoid generic diets that have too many fillers and too little nutritional value. Your veterinarian will recommend a diet that is ideal for your cat and he or she will also have special prescription diets available if the need arises.

We will begin with kittens. A kitten requires a great deal of nutrition to get through her first year healthy and happy. In order to get the correct nutrients for growth, such as calcium and phosphorous, it is important to feed a diet specifically for kittens until they have stopped growing. This usually occurs by twelve months of age. As a kitten becomes an adult cat, her nutritional and energy needs change. As responsible pet owners, we will want to shift to a diet to meet the nutritional requirements of the adult cat. These high quality diets contain carefully balanced ingredients, such as vitamins and antioxidants that are vital for preventing disease. Feeding the right diet at the right life stage can have a significant impact on increasing the life span of our pets.

By age seven, we should be transitioning our nutritional focus to our pets golden years. As our pets slow down, so do their nutritional needs. Premium diets targeted to the needs of older cats contain fewer calories, yet just the right balance of essential nutrients. Obesity at any age will likely shorten your pets life span; however, feeding the correct diet will help to prevent obesity. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is overweight. You should be able to feel his or her ribs, but not see them. If you can not feel your cats ribs, your cat is probably overweight. If you can easily see the ribs, your cat is probably too thin.

Genetic factors, as well as overfeeding, greatly influence weight gain. Some animals overeat because they have access to too much tasty food. Cats in multiple pet households may be influenced to overeat due to competition by housemates. Cats require nutrients in their diet that differ from dogs. They require more fat and certain nutrients in higher levels, such as Taurine. For this reason, a cat should not be getting the majority of its food from the dogs dish. Human foods should also be avoided. Cats can quickly become acclimated to many of the foods that we enjoy. Offering commercially prepared treats in moderation is a much better alternative.

The amount of food needed changes rapidly during a kittens first year. Most kittens should be fed 3 times a day until they are 6-8 weeks of age. After this age, most cats are fed one to two times daily. The quantity of food can be determined by reading the suggested feeding volumes listed on the food bag. Regularly scheduled meal times may be better than free feeding throughout the day if your cat is prone to becoming obese.

Your pets nutritional needs are paramount to a long and healthy life. With the help of your veterinarian, you can develop a well balanced nutritional program that will help to ensure a happy and healthy cat!

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Feline Miliary Dermatitis

Miliary Dermatitis is a symptom rather than a disease. The condition appears as hair loss around numerous small crusty pustules on an itchy cat. It...

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Miliary Dermatitis is a symptom rather than a disease. The condition appears as hair loss around numerous small crusty pustules on an itchy cat. It most often occurs on the neck, back, and rump. Allergies, and specifically flea allergies, are the most common cause of miliary dermatitis. Other causes include bacterial or fungal infections, parasitic infestations, nutritional imbalances and immune-mediated diseases.

Scratching and over-grooming because of an underlying skin condition is what leads to the hair loss and bumps associated with miliary dermatitis. Fleas must be completely ruled out as a contributing factor and can be difficult to find on a cat. Being meticulous groomers with rake-like tongues, cats may ingest many of the fleas that infest them. Flea preventives should always be started in the case of miliary dermatitis, because symptomatic cats are very likely to be allergic to flea bites.

Bacterial and fungal infections may also cause miliary dermatitis. Ringworm is a fungus that causes itching and broken hair shafts. A culture may be performed to diagnose these dermatophytes. Bacterial infection is likely to be secondary to skin disease, or may become established if the immune system is suppressed by viral infection or steroid use. Antibiotics and antifungal drugs may be prescribed in these situations. Antiseptic / antipruritic (anti-itch) shampoos may be useful as well to reduce symptoms and provide relief.

Mange mites are uncommon in house cats, but can cause severe itching and secondary miliary dermatitis. A skin scraping is used to rule out mites as a cause of symptoms.

The treatment for miliary dermatitis begins with eliminating any underlying cause. Oral antihistamines and steroids, in combination with topical products, are used to control itch. An Elizabethan collar can be used to prevent further self trauma.

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High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition in older cats suffering from kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and various heart diseases....

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition in older cats suffering from kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and various heart diseases. These are the three most common causes of hypertension in cats. Symptoms may include dilated pupils and/or blood in the eye chamber. This is caused by a build-up of blood in the eye due to increased pressure and can lead to detached retinas and blindness if not treated quickly. Other symptoms of hypertension may include an increase in water consumption and increased urination due to kidney disease. A heart murmur caused by various cardiac diseases is another sign of hypertension. All of these symptoms are serious and should be given prompt attention by your veterinarian.

Kidney disease and hyperthyroidism are more common causes of high blood pressure in cats than heart disease. Aging kidneys tend to develop scar tissue and shrink causing less space for blood flow. This can subsequently cause blood to become backed up in the arteries, which causes the blood pressure to rise. Hyperthyroidism is caused due to an overproduction of thyroid hormone and is a common disease in geriatric cats. The thyroid regulates metabolism in the body and when the thyroid is producing excessive hormone and the bodys metabolism is elevated, this causes the heart to pump blood even faster resulting in hypertension.

Hypertension can be tested for by your veterinarian. A sphygmomanometer is a device used to test a pets blood pressure. Several tests may need to be performed to establish an average. Treatment of high blood pressure is normally approached by treating the underlying disease. Although kidney disease and heart disease cannot be cured, they can be significantly controlled with medications and this will normally lead to a more stable blood pressure level. Approximately twenty five percent of cats have hypertension associated with hyperthyroidism. Fortunately, hyperthyroidism can be treated and cured, which leads to a normal blood pressure. Humans have several medications available for the treatment of hypertension, but there are no drugs currently approved for the specific treatment of hypertension in cats.

There are many things we can do as pet owners to help prevent the conditions that lead to high blood pressure. It is very important that our pets receive a healthy, well balanced diet as recommended by your veterinarian. All of the diseases mentioned above can develop due to obesity. A healthy diet coupled with regular exercise is often all it takes to avoid your pet from becoming overweight. If your cat stays indoors, try to encourage play behavior that will help him to get the exercise he needs to stay healthy. Regular visits to the veterinarian are very important to monitor your cats overall health and blood pressure!

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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

Heart disease, a very common health concern for aging dogs, is a relatively rare problem in cats. While dogs with advanced heart disease exhibit...

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Heart disease, a very common health concern for aging dogs, is a relatively rare problem in cats. While dogs with advanced heart disease exhibit obvious symptoms, the most common form of feline heart disease, cardiomyopathy, is often a silent killer of cats. Heart disease in general is usually a heritable condition, and cats who acquire Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) are thought to have a genetic predisposition. Breeds known to be at an increased risk for developing HCM include Maine Coon cats, Oriental breeds, Ragdolls, and Bengals. Nonetheless, and probably due to the fact that purebred cats constitute a very small percentage of housecats, the Domestic Short Hair (mongrel) is the most commonly diagnosed breed of cat with HCM.

The term Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy simply means “disease of a thickened heart muscle”. In dogs, Dilatative Cardiomyopathy (DCM) causes the overall size of the heart to increase as the chambers increase in volume due to thinning of the heart muscle. HCM, which only very rarely affects dogs, instead causes the cat’s heart muscle to become thickened while the chamber volume decreases. On a chest x-ray, DCM is apparent, but HCM may show little or no visible enlargement of the cardiac silhouette.

Furthermore, while dogs will develop a cough and other prominent symptoms as the heart disease progresses, this is seldom true for cats. Unfortunately, the first symptom seen in cats that develop HCM may be collapse and sudden death. Canine heart disease eventually progresses into congestive heart failure. Symptoms are caused by fluid leaking into the lungs or abdominal cavity due to heart muscle insufficiency. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy can develop into congestive heart disease as well, but cats often succumb to its earlier effects. As the HCM worsens, an abnormal heart rhythm can result in sudden death. Equally dire, the cat may suffer a thromboembolism, a blood clot that dislodges from the heart and occludes blood flow into the rear limbs.

Lacking overt symptoms, cats are more easily discovered if a heart murmur is heard with a stethoscope during a routine wellness exam. Heart murmurs do not occur in all cases of HCM. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed by the cats owner and not be reported to the veterinarian. Slightly decreased appetite, weight loss, or mildly increased respiratory effort are all easy symptoms to miss.

There is unfortunately no simple test available to screen for HCM in cats*. A Doppler echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart muscle and blood flow through its vasculature) is the best diagnostic test. This allows the veterinarian, usually a specialist in cardiac health, to visualize and measure the heart walls and observe for abnormal heart valve function.

*A blood test has now become available for purebred Maine Coon cats that can determine if they carry the genetic mutation responsible for HCM. It is not diagnostic for other purebreds or mixed breeds. Nor does a positive test result confirm active heart disease; rather, it helps the veterinarian to be on alert for developing Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

HCM may also be secondary to common endocrine disorders like hyperthyroidism (elevated thyroid levels) and hypertension (high blood pressure). A blood-chemistry panel and blood pressure measurement will be performed to rule out these underlying causes. While x-rays are not useful to measure the heart muscle thickness, they are used to rule out lung congestion and solid masses (cancer). Electrocardiogram (ECG) may help identify heart arrhythmias which may indicate developing problems.

Treating any underlying disease process leading to HCM may partially or completely resolve the associated heart muscle changes. Unfortunately, there is no medication or therapy that will reverse the effects of heritable HCM. The goal of treatment is to prevent or reduce the outcome of the disease. For instance, if congestive heart failure exists, diuretics and ACE inhibitors can be prescribed to remove fluid from the lungs, reduce blood pressure, and improve cardiac output. Blood thinners that reduce the blood’s clotting ability may be given to avoid the formation of a thrombus (platelet clot). These must be used judiciously to avoid side effects like gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding. The potential benefit of using blood thinners is still unproven. Antacids may be given prophylactically to prevent gastrointestinal ulceration.

The prognosis for cats with HCM is unpredictable. Some cats enjoy a very good quality of life and long survival time after diagnosis, and others will succumb to HCM rapidly and without warning. The more advanced the heart disease becomes, the poorer the outcome. If congestive heart failure or a thromboembolism occurs, the prognosis is guarded to very poor.

The only way to prevent Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is to eradicate the genetic mutation from familial lines. This means cats with a history of heart disease should never be used for breeding.

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Infectious Peritonitis

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a serious viral disease of cats. It is most common in an environment in which large numbers of cats live...

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Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a serious viral disease of cats. It is most common in an environment in which large numbers of cats live together, such as breeding facilities. There is no cure for FIP.

How Cats Get the Virus
Less than 1% of the general cat population in the United States is infected with FIP. However, the incidence can be much higher in multi-cat households, breeding facilities, and animal shelters. The disease is spread via the droppings of infected cats and sometimes via saliva or urine. The virus can survive in the environment for up to two months. However, not every cat that is exposed will get the disease. Cats that are very young, very old, unhealthy, or stressed are most susceptible.

What the Disease Does
FIP is caused by a coronavirus. Most cats infected with coronaviruses get only a mild digestive illness. The virus that causes FIP is thought to develop in some cats as a mutation of the digestive coronavirus. It then invades the immune system, infecting the white blood cells which then carry the virus throughout the body. The cats infected immune system is responsible for most of the inflammation and other symptoms associated with FIP.

Initial infection with FIP may go unnoticed. Some cats develop a mild respiratory or digestive illness, from which they soon recover. Many of these cats fight off the virus completely. Some remain carriers. Only a small number get the serious illness. Those that do may get sick within a few months, or the virus may lie dormant for years before causing symptoms.

FIP occurs in two forms. The first is called the dry form. Signs include chronic fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy, and disorders of the eyes and nervous system. It can also cause failure of the kidneys, liver, or pancreas. The second form of FIP is the wet form. Cats with the wet form of FIP may have any of the signs listed above, but also suffer from accumulation of fluid in the chest and/or abdomen. Cats usually die within a few weeks or months, but may live as long as a year.

How FIP is Diagnosed
Although there are tests for FIP, they only detect exposure to coronavirus. They cannot distinguish between the relatively harmless digestive viruses and the one that causes FIP. Therefore, diagnosis involves careful consideration of the cats history and symptoms as well as laboratory results that may include tissue biopsies and fluid aspirates.

Treatment for FIP
There are no effective treatments for FIP, but medications can be given to make ill cats more comfortable and to reduce the immune systems inflammatory response. Immune modulators and antiviral drugs may also be of benefit.

Preventing FIP
The best prevention for FIP is to keep your cat healthy and avoid stressful, overcrowded living environments. Facilities that house large numbers of cats must practice good sanitation, cleaning and disinfecting litter pans frequently. Cat breeders should talk to their veterinarians about protocols for eliminating coronavirus from their breeding stock. A vaccine is now available against FIP. It has a good record of safety, and may help prevent the disease in some situations. However, FIP is a complex disease and the vaccine may not be effective for some cats. Talk to your veterinarian about your cats risk of exposure to FIP and whether he might benefit from vaccination.

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Leukemia Virus

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is a serious viral disease of cats. About 2-3% of cats in the United States are infected. It does not affect other animals or...

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Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is a serious viral disease of cats. About 2-3% of cats in the United States are infected. It does not affect other animals or people. FeLV can be prevented, but not cured.

How Cats Get the Virus
FeLV is spread by close contact between cats. Infected cats shed the virus in most of their body fluids. They spread the disease through fighting or mutual grooming. Mother cats also pass FeLV to their kittens during pregnancy and nursing. Although it is possible for the disease to be spread via contaminated food dishes or litter pans, this mode of transmission is rare. The virus can only survive outside a cats body for a few hours.

What the Disease Does
There are three different stages of FeLV infection. In the first stage of infection, most cats show no symptoms. Some cats are even able to fight off the virus. In the secondary stage of infection, the virus invades the bone marrow tissue. Cats that reach this stage are infected for life. However, many still appear healthy. The third stage occurs when these cats begin to show signs of illness. The time between the second and third stages of infection can range from a few weeks to several years.

FeLV can cause severe immunosuppression, making cats more susceptible to other diseases or parasites. Most of the symptoms seen in FeLV infected cats are actually caused by these secondary invaders. Signs can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, poor appetite, weight loss, dull coat, lethargy, gingivitis and sores in the mouth, eye problems, anemia, vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, and miscarriages in pregnant cats.

Feline Leukemia Virus can also cause cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. Ultimately, most infected cats die from the virus, from secondary infections or from FeLV-associated cancers.

How to Find Out if Your Cat Has FeLV
Your veterinarian can perform a simple blood test to check for FeLV. Its a good idea to test all new cats, especially if you already have other cats in your household. If your cat is positive, follow-up tests can double check the accuracy of the first one and determine what stage of infection is present.

Caring for FeLV-Positive Cats
Although there is no cure for Feline Leukemia, there are several steps owners can take to keep their FeLV-infected cats as healthy as possible. To protect them from secondary infections and to prevent the spread of the virus, keep your FeLV-positive cat indoors, separated from other cats. Keep him up to date on his routine veterinary care and vaccinations. In the final stage of infection, treatment is given for secondary infections and to reduce symptoms. Immunomodulators and antiviral drugs may also be considered.

Preventing FeLV
Because FeLV cannot be cured, prevention is crucial. Keeping cats indoors prevents exposure to infected cats. Cats that do go outside should be spayed or neutered to reduce the likelihood of fighting or mating. Vaccinations are available for cats at risk for exposure. Remember that infected cats should be kept separate from uninfected cats. When adding a new cat to a household with other cats, test the new cat before it meets its housemates.

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Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is the term that replaces FUS, or feline urological syndrome. It describes many urinary tract related...

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Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is the term that replaces FUS, or feline urological syndrome. It describes many urinary tract related symptoms including straining to urinate, blood in the urine, inappropriate urination (out of the litter box), and inability to urinate (blockage). The term does not indicate the causes of the symptoms, which can be numerous. Typically, bladder infection is not the primary reason for FLUTD, but it can occur secondarily. In fact, frequently the underlying cause is speculative or unconfirmed.

More than half of cats with FLUTD under the age of 10 years will have an undetermined cause of their symptoms. Twenty percent may develop bladder stones or urethral blockage. Male cats have a tapering urethra, the tube that carries urine outside of the body. Because it narrows toward the opening, cells and mucous may dam up and form a blockage. This is called a urethral plug, and it is a life threatening emergency. The cat will usually howl or growl in pain while it strains to urinate, but it will be unable to do so or pass tiny drops of blood-tinged urine. Females rarely develop a blockage, but it does occur.

For cats over 10 years old with FLUTD, more than half will have a concurrent bladder infection and some degree of kidney dysfunction. Therefore, while extensive testing for a cause of symptoms may not yield results in younger cats, older cats with FLUTD should be screened for kidney failure.

Idiopathic cystitis describes a chronically inflamed bladder with an unknown cause. Cats may strain, urinate outside of the litter pan, and pass blood. No infection is associated with this condition.

When a cat presents with any of the symptoms listed above, a urinalysis is performed to categorize the type of urinary tract disease. Cells found in the urine sediment can allude to a bacterial infection as a primary or secondary factor. Antibiotics are prescribed any time a large number of white blood cells, the cells that fight infection, are observed. Sometimes, bacteria are obvious under the microscope. In this case, a culture and susceptibility should be run to determine the type of bacteria present and whether it has any antibiotic resistance. Most cats with FLUTD will have a large number of red blood cells present on urinalysis. Blood may be obvious to the owner, or it may be occult, revealed only on microscopic examination. X-rays and/or ultrasound of the urinary tract may be performed on all symptomatic cats to rule out bladder stones. Bladder stones are less common in cats than in dogs, but if they are present, symptoms will not resolve until they are removed surgically or dissolved with special diets. A chemistry panel, blood count, and electrolytes may be checked to discover other illnesses that may contribute to FLUTD.

Treatment for feline lower urinary tract disease depends on what is found during diagnostics. For the cat without infection, antibiotics are pointless. Cats diagnosed with idiopathic cystitis may be started on one or a combination of various medications which may include pain medications, antidepressants, and/or glycosaminoglycans. The exact mechanism by which these drugs work is unclear. Many cats respond well to amitriptyline, a tri-cyclic antidepressant that is given orally once or twice daily.

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Marking

Cats are territorial animals that mark their areas and possessions as a signal of ownership. They use scent glands on their cheeks and feet, as well...

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Cats are territorial animals that mark their areas and possessions as a signal of ownership. They use scent glands on their cheeks and feet, as well as depositing small amounts of urine, to leave long-lasting messages to other cats of their presence. When a cat rubs his face against your leg, he is actually marking you as his possession. Humans are not aware of the trace odors that this behavior leaves behind. Spraying urine on the other hand, leaves a very recognizable disgusting odor that we do not want in our houses. Urine marking begins at sexual maturity in males and females, and if not prevented before it starts, can become a frustrating problem to deal with.

Both male and female cats are capable of urine spraying. It is unlike normal urination, in that the urine is forcibly deposited onto vertical surfaces. The cat will raise and shake its tail and spray urine onto a wall, furniture, or even a television at about nose height. Intact (un-neutered) male cats are the most likely culprits of spraying behavior and leave a distinctive tom-cat odor behind that can last for months. Spaying and neutering cats before sexual maturity (around 6 months old) can prevent about 90% of marking problems.

About 10% of cats will continue marking, or simulated marking where no urine is sprayed, despite spaying and neutering. This commonly occurs during territorial disputes in multi-cat households, or when a spraying tom-cat marks outside the cat’s home. Cats may increase marking behavior during times of stress, or when a new pet – cat or dog – is introduced into the household. Besides spraying urine, a cat may rarely deposit stool during marking behavior.

Marking should be differentiated from other very common inappropriate elimination problems in cats. Urinating just outside of the litter pan can be a symptom of Feline Idiopathic Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). If urine is found on the floor, or if no typical marking behavior is noticed, a urinalysis should be performed to rule out bladder and kidney stones or infections.

If the problem is indeed marking behavior, intact cats should be neutered or spayed. It may take weeks for hormone levels to subside and spraying to cease. Once spraying has begun, it can be very difficult to stop.

Changes in the cat’s environment such as new additions to the household including pets and people, and outdoor cat encounters, must be considered when a cat suddenly begins marking. The cat may need to be isolated in a separate room for a period of time until it can become acclimated to the changes. Occasionally, anti-anxiety medications can be used to help reduce stress in a persistent marker. All other forms of urinary tract disease must be ruled out before beginning any behavioral drug therapy.

If the problem arises from outdoor cats marking the house and yard, strategies to remove them need to be pursued. Closing curtains where indoor cats may observe the unwelcome intruders may help. Enzymatic odor neutralizers may help if it is possible to locate the source of the urine. They should also be used in the home where an indoor cat has sprayed in the past.

Even if the odors have been removed inside the house, a cat may continue spraying unless the cause is addressed. It may sometimes help curb spraying behavior by confining a cat to a very small room with only its own belongings. Cats are not likely to mark food bowls, litter pans, and personal bedding or toys.

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Neutering Your Cat

Neutering, or orchiectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for cats. Here are some important facts you...

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Neutering, or orchiectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for cats. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your cat neutered.

The Neuter Surgery
Orchiectomy is a surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your cats scrotum will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made. The veterinarian will remove both testicles and tie off the spermatic cords. The skin incision is closed with stitches or surgical adhesive. Following neuter surgery, your cat will no longer produce sperm and he will have lower testosterone levels.

Although neutering is very routine, it still carries the risks associated with general anesthesia and surgery. Your veterinarian takes numerous measures to keep your cat safe, such as checking his heart and lungs before administering anesthesia and monitoring him constantly while he is asleep. You can ask whether your veterinarian recommends any additional safety precautions, such as pre-anesthetic blood tests or administration of IV fluids during the procedure.

Benefits
The normal behavior of an un-neutered cat is often incompatible with being a household pet. Intact cats tend to wander from home, seeking a mate or defending their territory. This puts them at risk for being hit by a car or being injured in a fight. Urine marking and some types of aggression are more pronounced in un-neutered cats as well. Although neutering may not entirely eliminate these behaviors, it can diminish them by 50-90%.

Intact male cats suffer from a high incidence of inflammation and enlargement of the prostate, as well as testicular tumors. Neutering your cat will greatly cut down on the incidence of reproductive related cancers.

The final benefit of neutering is that its the best way you can help end pet overpopulation. Every year, 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. None of us wants to contribute to that sad statistic, but we may do so unwittingly. Kittens adopted to apparently good homes may be given away or lost.

Considerations Before Surgery
Consult with your veterinarian about when to schedule your cats neuter surgery. Traditionally, pets are spayed at around six months of age. However, some veterinarians advocate performing the procedure earlier. The night before your cats surgery, remove his food and water before you go to bed. He should not eat or drink anything during the night or the morning of his surgery.

Considerations After Surgery
Your cat may go home the day of his surgery, or may stay in the hospital overnight. If he goes home the same day, expect him to feel a little groggy. Keep him indoors, in a warm, safe, quiet room away from other pets. During the first week after surgery, try to restrict his activity level. It may be necessary to keep your cat indoors for several days following the surgery and it will be very important to keep the litter box clean.

If you notice your cat licking the surgical site frequently, ask for an Elizabethan collar. Some cats develop a swollen or slightly bruised scrotal area following neuter surgery. Some swelling is normal, but dont be afraid to ask your veterinarian if you are concerned about your cat.

The effects of neutering on your cat will not be instantaneous. Testosterone levels wane over a period of weeks or months, followed by a reduction in fertility as well as territorial and mating behaviors.

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Fleas, Ticks, and Other Parasites

Parasites on Your Cat
Parasites are organisms that live in or on your cat, causing harm. Minimizing parasites is an important part of keeping your pet ...

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Parasites on Your Cat
Parasites are organisms that live in or on your cat, causing harm. Minimizing parasites is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. Some pet parasites can cause problems for people too, so keeping them out of your home is also good for you and your family.

External parasites are insects or arachnids that live on the skin or in the ears, feeding on blood or cell fluids. Most are large enough to be visible, but its easy to miss them on a furry pet. Your veterinarian can tell you about parasite control products that are safe, convenient, and effective.

Fleas
Fleas are about twice the size of the head of a pin and are brown in color. They scurry rapidly through your cats hair coat and can jump several feet. Fleas can be detected by combing your pet with a fine-toothed flea comb. The presence of flea droppings is another sign. Flea droppings look like black sand. A good trick for differentiating flea droppings from dirt is to add a drop or two of water. Flea droppings contain partially digested blood, and will produce a red color when wet.

Fleas cause severe skin irritation and allergies. Your cat may scratch so much that he creates raw spots, which can become infected. Severe infestations can cause anemia. Fleas are also the carriers of tapeworms. Although fleas prefer furry creatures, they can cause itchy bites on people.

There are many products available for flea control. The newest, safest, and most effective are available from your veterinarian. These products are also very convenient, requiring only a few drops of liquid applied once a month. You may still notice a few fleas occasionally. Sprays for the home and garden can minimize this problem. Make sure to read and follow label directions on all flea products. Some products can be dangerous to you or your cat if they are used improperly.

Lice
Lice are whitish insects that are smaller than fleas. Their eggs, or nits, can be detected on the hair shafts. In cats, lice are much less common than fleas. Lice can cause skin irritation and anemia. Insecticidal shampoos and other products can be used to treat lice, but it is very important to treat the bedding as well. Although people get lice, they are a different type, so you dont have to worry about getting lice from your pet.

Ticks
Ticks are arachnids, relatives of spiders. Their size varies tremendously, depending on the type, age, sex, and whether the tick has fed on blood. Larval ticks may be smaller than the head of a pin, whereas some adult ticks are larger than a corn kernel. Ticks are detected by careful examination of your pets skin and ears.

Ticks can cause anemia and are carriers of many serious diseases, including Lyme disease and Ehrlichia. They can also bite people.

Some of the topical flea products available from your veterinarian for flea control are also effective for ticks. In addition, powerful tick-specific products may be recommended. Many tick control products are safe for dogs only, so read all labels carefully before using a product on your cat.

Mites
Mites, like ticks, are arachnids, but they are much smaller. Many mites are difficult or impossible to see without magnification. Ear mites can be detected by your veterinarian during a physical examination. Skin mites usually require a skin scraping test. Symptoms vary depending on the type of mite, but can include itching, irritation, and hair loss. Skin mites are the cause of mange. Effective mite treatments are available by prescription. The treatment often takes several weeks.

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Immunodeficiency Virus

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a serious viral disease of cats that is similar to HIV/AIDS in humans. About 1 3% of cats in the United States ...

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Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a serious viral disease of cats that is similar to HIV/AIDS in humans. About 1 3% of cats in the United States are infected. It does not affect other animals or people. FIV can be prevented, but not cured.

How Cats Get the Virus
FIV is spread mainly through bites that occur when cats fight. Rarely, mother cats pass the virus to their kittens during pregnancy, birth or nursing. Blood transfusions are another potential, but uncommon, source of infection. FIV does not survive outside a cats body, so the disease is not spread by casual contact or by sharing food bowls.

What the Disease Does
When cats first become infected, there are few if any symptoms. Some cats develop a fever, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea or anemia. Once infected, almost all cats harbor the virus for life but many remain healthy for years. At some point the virus attacks the immune system, leaving the cat unprotected against other diseases and parasites. Microorganisms that do not ordinarily harm healthy cats can make FIV infected cats severely ill.

Signs of FIV infection include loss of appetite, severe gingivitis and sores in the mouth, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, eye disorders, nervous system disorders, chronic fever, and chronic infections of the skin, ears, and respiratory system.

How to Find Out if Your Cat Has FIV
Your veterinarian can perform a simple blood test to check for FIV. Its a good idea to test all new cats, especially if you already have other cats in your household. Cats that go outside should be tested every year. If your cat tests positive, follow-up tests can double check the accuracy of the first one. This is especially important for kittens under six months of age, in which positive results are often caused by immunity from the mother. If these cats test negative later in life, they likely were never infected with the virus.

Caring for FIV-Positive Cats
Although there is no cure for FIV, there are several steps owners can take to keep their FIV-infected cats as healthy as possible. To protect him from secondary infections and to prevent the spread of the virus, keep your FIV-positive cat indoors. It is preferable to separate him from uninfected cats. Keep him up to date on his routine veterinary care and vaccinations. Checkups are recommended every six months. Although FIV is incurable, treatment is given for secondary infections and to reduce symptoms. Immunomodulators and antiviral drugs may also help.

Preventing FIV
Because FIV cannot be cured, prevention is crucial. Keeping cats indoors is the best method because it prevents exposure. Cats that do go outside should be spayed or neutered to reduce the likelihood of fighting. When adding a new cat to a household, test it before it meets its housemates. Infected and uninfected cats can live side-by-side without transmitting the infection as long as they dont bite each other. However, there is always a risk.

A vaccine recently became available to protect against FIV. Unfortunately, there is no test to distinguish between a vaccinated cat and an infected cat. This creates a serious dilemma, since infected cats require special care. Worse yet, FIV-positive cats are commonly euthanized by animal shelters. Until new tests are developed, the decision whether or not to vaccinate will be a difficult one you need to discuss with your veterinarian.

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Inappropriate Elimination / The Litter Pan

A cat that won’t use the litter box is the most frequent complaint from owners to their veterinarians. Cats that aren’t litter-trained have a hard...

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A cat that won’t use the litter box is the most frequent complaint from owners to their veterinarians. Cats that aren’t litter-trained have a hard time finding a home. This behavior is understandably very frustrating to the cat owner, but with patience, diligence, and time it can most of the time be corrected. Punishing a cat for inappropriate elimination is only likely to worsen the problem, as the cause is probably an emotional trigger to begin with. A few adjustments around the house will correct a lot of cases of house soiling. For cats that are persistent in avoiding the litter box, there are medications that can help to calm the cat’s displeasure with whatever has him annoyed.

Before assuming that the cat’s reluctance to use the litter box is purely behavioral, a health reason must be ruled out. A simple examination and urinalysis can eliminate feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) as the cause. If the cat’s water consumption has increased, there is likely a kidney or bladder problem responsible. Intestinal parasites can cause fecal urgency, and de-worming may be in order. The cat may begin to associate uncomfortable feelings with the litter box if it is painful when he urinates or defecates.

Marking behavior (spraying) is not the same as having accidents in the house. Marking can be done by both males and females and is almost always on a vertical surface. The cat will back up to a wall or a piece of furniture with its tail twitching and straight up. The cat will spray a small amount of urine and walk away. Neutering should be done at a young age before this behavior begins, as it can be difficult to stop once it starts.

When it is determined that the problem is definitely litter box avoidance, a few simple changes should be made. The litter box should be cleaned more frequently and scrubbed / disinfected twice weekly to see if the behavior improves. Cats are fastidious groomers and may choose not to use a dirty litter box. Try multiple litter boxes. Also, the area designated for elimination should never be close to food and water bowls. Cats will not urinate or defecate in areas where they eat.

If the type of litter was changed, switch back to the type that the cat was using before. If it wasn’t changed, try a different brand. Avoid perfumed litter, or types that contain additives like scent crystals or baking soda. Most cats will use plain, unscented, clumping type litter.

Cats prefer privacy when they use the potty, but they also want to keep a look out for surprises. If another animal in the house harasses the cat in the litter box, the cat will find refuge elsewhere. This situation is pretty easy to realize; but if no other animals are in the house, providing the right level of privacy can be a little harder to fine tune. Some cats prefer covered pans facing into the room so that they can keep watch for intruders. Other cats will simply not use a covered pan. Experiment with different styles to see what works for your cat. Make changes over several days however, to give the cat a chance to decide what he prefers. Again, try providing several litter boxes at the same time.

Anywhere the cat has soiled in the past should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to stop the association of the area with elimination. Covering the area with foil will discourage the cat from entering the area until he is retrained to use the litter box.

If all other attempts have failed in acclimating your cat to using a litter pan, discuss the situation with your veterinarian to see if antidepressant medications might help. While these medications may be of benefit, they rarely work alone without some behavioral modification.

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Kitten Care

Congratulations! Owning a new kitten can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. However, as with any new addition to a family, there are often...

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Congratulations! Owning a new kitten can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. However, as with any new addition to a family, there are often adjustments and changes that can be made to make the transition easier for everyone in the household. This handout will address some of the questions and challenges facing the owners of a new kitten.

Kittens are naturally inquisitive and your new addition will want to explore its new surroundings as soon as possible. However, in order to avoid overwhelming your kitten, it is best to allow this exploration in stages. For the first few days confine your kitten to one or two rooms and then gradually allow him to move to other portions of your home. This gradual expansion of boundaries will allow your kitten to always have a safe haven in a previously explored area of the home.

Your new kitten may initially receive a hostile reaction from your current pets, especially another cat. In order to minimize this reaction, make sure that that your established pets do not feel the need to compete with the kitten for attention or food. Shower all of your pets with attention during the homecoming, introduction period and until the household has settled into a normal routine. And do not let the new kitten eat or drink from an established cats bowls.

It is important to stimulate your new kitten with many types of play and socialization in order to foster proper muscle development and to teach proper social skills. Two types of essential play behaviors are stalking and pouncing. These behaviors can be encouraged by providing toys that are lightweight, easily movable and have unique sounds to attract your kittens attention during play. Some examples of these toys are small balls, crumpled paper and lengths of yarn, string or ribbon that may be drug across the floor. Remember, however, that your kitten should always be supervised when playing with small items that may present a swallowing or choking hazard.

Kittens learn a great deal about the world around them and acceptable social behavior between the ages of two and twelve weeks. During this time it is important for you to expose your new addition to as many positive experiences with men, women, children, dogs, cats and other pets as possible. Positive experiences in many different settings during this time will help prevent your kitten to becoming scared or skittish in new environments and around strangers.

Kittens are rambunctious and curious. Unfortunately, these normally cute characteristics can also lead to destructive behavior. If your kitten is caught in the act of destructive behavior, it may be necessary to discipline it. Physical and harsh punishment for kittens is never recommended. Instead it is best to use a punishment that will be associated with the undesired behavior and not the enforcer. Some examples of these types of punishment include using a squirt bottle, horn, or hand clap to startle the kitten.

As with any new pet, proper veterinary care is essential to maintaining a healthy happy kitten. Your new kitten will receive a series of vaccinations to help protect it against five preventable feline diseases. These diseases are rabies, feline distemper and three types of respiratory organisms. This series of injections is normally given between six to eight weeks of age, at 12 weeks and again at 16 weeks. Vaccinations are also available for feline leukemia and FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). However, consult your veterinarian about these vaccines as they may not be necessary for your kitten if it does not go outside or if it is not exposed to multiple cats.

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Litter Box Issues for Cats

One of the most appealing aspects of owning a cat is that they are generally clean and require little training. Most kittens have already learned...

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One of the most appealing aspects of owning a cat is that they are generally clean and require little training. Most kittens have already learned appropriate litter box use from their mothers long before they are adopted. Unfortunately, there are several things that can go wrong that cause cats to urinate in places we find offensive. Inappropriate elimination is the most common behavioral problem recognized in cats.

Urinary Tract Illness
When a cat begins urinating outside the litter box, the first possibility to be considered is illness. Cats with bladder irritation or infection frequently urinate in unusual places including potted plants, sinks, and bathtubs. There is often only a tiny amount of urine in each place, and it may be bloody. Kidney failure, diabetes, and some medications can cause cats to urinate more. They may be unable to wait to go outside or to get to the nearest litter box. They generally produce large amounts of watery urine. A physical examination, urine and blood tests can identify or rule out medical causes for elimination disorders.

Urine Marking Behavior
Spraying urine is a normal marking behavior in un-neutered male cats. Spraying differs from ordinary urination because the cat remains standing and the urine is sprayed onto a vertical surface behind him. Neutering male cats as early as possible reduces this behavior. However, neutered males and female cats can spray too. This is more likely when the cat is distressed or anxious and occurs more often in multi-cat households.

Aversions and Preferences
Some cats develop aversions or preferences with regard to locations or substrates for urination. The most common sources of aversions are dirty litter boxes, strongly perfumed litter, and litter boxes placed in busy areas where the cat may feel insecure. Some cats develop a preference to urinate only in a particular spot in the house, or only on a certain material such as carpeting or plastic.

Treating Inappropriate Urination
After ruling out medical concerns, the veterinarian must address underlying emotional issues. Removal of stressful stimuli such as dogs and other cats may help. Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medicines are sometimes used. A spray that mimics a natural calming hormone of cats has shown benefit as well. Litter boxes are adjusted to encourage the cat to use them. Boxes can be provided in preferred locations and with preferred substrates. Aversive factors should be eliminated. This can involve a lot of trial and error, such as providing numerous litter boxes or different types and observing which are most preferred. Unfortunately, behavioral elimination disorders in cats can be difficult and frustrating to treat.

Preventing Inappropriate Urination
Since it is so difficult to treat, it’s a good idea to try to prevent abnormal urination behavior. A helpful tip is to provide plenty of clean litter boxes, preferably without perfumed litters. The rule of thumb for the number of boxes to have is that there should be at least as many boxes as there are cats and at least as many boxes as there are stories in the house. For single cat households, there should be 2 boxes available. Most cats prefer a large, open litter box in a quiet location as opposed to litter boxes with hoods, which may trap odor.

Male cats should be neutered. Always remember that cats are territorial by nature. Cats housed singularly are less likely to have behavioral elimination problems, probably because they experience less territorial stress.

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Mange – Sarcoptic

Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, is an intensely itchy skin disease caused by a Sarcoptes scabei, a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. ...

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Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, is an intensely itchy skin disease caused by a Sarcoptes scabei, a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. Although dogs, cats, and humans all have a similar condition known as scabies, the mites are different for each host. Scabies in dogs is not the same as scabies in people.

Signs
Red, crusty lesions are most commonly seen on the ears, elbows and trunk of infected dogs. The lesions are extremely itchy, helping to distinguish sarcoptic mange from other skin conditions like ringworm and demodectic mange. The skin irritation is caused by the burrowing mites, which also release allergens and toxins into the skin. Constant scratching makes the skin susceptible to secondary infections with bacteria.

Diagnosis
Although the areas of hair loss may lead the veterinarian to suspect sarcoptic mange, the final diagnosis is made by performing a skin scraping test. The skin is scraped in several areas to loosen cells and mites which are then examined microscopically. Because the mites are difficult to find, repeated scrapings are often indicated. Other tests may be performed to make sure the hair loss is not due to a cause other than mites.

Treatment
Treatments may include dips or medications given by mouth or by injection. Treatments are usually given every two weeks until the symptoms have resolved and the pet tests negative for mites.

Prevention
Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious among dogs. Infected dogs should be separated from other dogs until treatment is complete. Most other mammals, including humans, can be infected with a type of Sarcoptes, but the mite is different for each host. Mites from animals may get on people and cause itchiness for a few days, but will not actually cause an infection. However, until the pet is treated, mites may continue causing problems for their owners. People with skin irritations caused by canine scabies should consult their doctor for treatment to reduce the temporary itching sensation.

Cats do not get Sarcoptes, but have a similar disease caused by a different mite, Notoedres cati. It spreads easily among cats. Infected cats should receive prompt treatment and should be separated from other cats until treatment is complete. Like Sarcoptes, Notoedres does not cause scabies in people but may occasionally cause temporary, itchy skin lesions.

True scabies in people is always contracted from close contact with other people. Children, the elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals are at higher risk. Infection is usually the result of prolonged, direct contact between sexual partners or members of the same household. The organism can live for about 72 hours in the environment, so it is possible to spread scabies via sharing of unwashed clothing or bedding.

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Medicating Your Cat

Having to give your cat medication is not a task most pet owners look forward to performing. However, in order for your pet to get well it is...

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Having to give your cat medication is not a task most pet owners look forward to performing. However, in order for your pet to get well it is important that they receive their medication. This handout includes some tips that will, hopefully, make medicine time a more enjoyable experience for both you and your pet.

The easiest way to medicate your pet is usually going to be to hide the pill in food. However, pets are finicky and this technique may not work.

Some pets are not able to take a pill in a tasty treat due to dietary restrictions. Other pets are simply tricksters to maneuvering around the pill and spitting it out. For these pets it may be necessary to manually administer the pill. To give a pill by mouth for your cat, follow these easy steps:

  • Gather the correct dose of the medication and place it in a quick and easily accessible location.

  • Lubricate the medication with a small amount of butter or margarine. This will allow the pill to slide smoothly down your pet’s throat.

  • Bring your pet to a safe location where you can comfortably control his movements

  • Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger

  • From above, grasp the cats head and muzzle with the hand not holding the pill. Your grasp should be placed so that your thumb and fingers are on opposite sides of the mouth behind the canine teeth. Be very careful not to get your fingers directly between teeth.

  • Using a firm, but gentle, grip tilt your pets head toward the ceiling. If the mouth does not drop open, use your ring and pinkie fingers of the hand holding the pill to press down on the lower teeth between the canines.

  • When the mouth is open, quickly place the pill on the back of the tongue. The pill will be swallowed quickest if it is placed behind the arch of the tongue. However, avoid putting the pill to far down your pet’s throat as you may stimulate the gag reflex.

  • Close your pet’s mouth and hold it closed while lowering the head back to a normal position. If your pet does not automatically swallow the pill, then gently rub the underside of its throat, and lightly blow on or rub its nose. These actions will stimulate a swallow reflex in your pet.

  • It is widely recommended that after pilling a cat, the procedure be followed by feeding food or a treat or giving a swallow or two of water with a syringe to ensure the pill has been taken into the stomach. This will prevent the pill from dissolving in the esophagus where certain medications can cause damage to the delicate esophageal lining.

  • Closely observe your pet after performing this procedure to make sure that the pill is not regurgitated or spit out.

  • Remember, throughout the entire procedure to offer praise and encouragement. And when the pill is swallowed, lavish your cat with praise.

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Neutering Your Cat

Neutering, or orchiectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for cats. Here are some important facts you...

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Neutering, or orchiectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for cats. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your cat neutered.

The Neuter Surgery
Orchiectomy is a surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your cats scrotum will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made. The veterinarian will remove both testicles and tie off the spermatic cords. The skin incision is closed with stitches or surgical adhesive. Following neuter surgery, your cat will no longer produce sperm and he will have lower testosterone levels.

Although neutering is very routine, it still carries the risks associated with general anesthesia and surgery. Your veterinarian takes numerous measures to keep your cat safe, such as checking his heart and lungs before administering anesthesia and monitoring him constantly while he is asleep. You can ask whether your veterinarian recommends any additional safety precautions, such as pre-anesthetic blood tests or administration of IV fluids during the procedure.

Benefits
The normal behavior of an un-neutered cat is often incompatible with being a household pet. Intact cats tend to wander from home, seeking a mate or defending their territory. This puts them at risk for being hit by a car or being injured in a fight. Urine marking and some types of aggression are more pronounced in un-neutered cats as well. Although neutering may not entirely eliminate these behaviors, it can diminish them by 50-90%.

Intact male cats suffer from a high incidence of inflammation and enlargement of the prostate, as well as testicular tumors. Neutering your cat will greatly cut down on the incidence of reproductive related cancers.

The final benefit of neutering is that its the best way you can help end pet overpopulation. Every year, 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. None of us wants to contribute to that sad statistic, but we may do so unwittingly. Kittens adopted to apparently good homes may be given away or lost.

Considerations Before Surgery
Consult with your veterinarian about when to schedule your cats neuter surgery. Traditionally, pets are spayed at around six months of age. However, some veterinarians advocate performing the procedure earlier. The night before your cats surgery, remove his food and water before you go to bed. He should not eat or drink anything during the night or the morning of his surgery.

Considerations After Surgery
Your cat may go home the day of his surgery, or may stay in the hospital overnight. If he goes home the same day, expect him to feel a little groggy. Keep him indoors, in a warm, safe, quiet room away from other pets. During the first week after surgery, try to restrict his activity level. It may be necessary to keep your cat indoors for several days following the surgery and it will be very important to keep the litter box clean.

If you notice your cat licking the surgical site frequently, ask for an Elizabethan collar. Some cats develop a swollen or slightly bruised scrotal area following neuter surgery. Some swelling is normal, but dont be afraid to ask your veterinarian if you are concerned about your cat.

The effects of neutering on your cat will not be instantaneous. Testosterone levels wane over a period of weeks or months, followed by a reduction in fertility as well as territorial and mating behaviors.

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16367 South FM 4,

Santo, TX 76472

Phone. 940-769-2222

Fax. 866-632-3365

Email. texaswestvet@gmail.com