CAT ARTICLES

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!

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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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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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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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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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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Texas West Animal Health

16367 South FM 4,

Santo, TX 76472

Phone. 940-769-2222

Fax. 866-632-3365

Email. texaswestvet@gmail.com