Blog Archives

Caring For Senior Cats

I received this great article from Isis vet and wanted to share it with you.  If you have a senior citizen cat, this is a great article to keep for future reference:

Thanks to advancements in veterinary care, today’s cats can live well into their teen years. It is not uncommon for cats to live to be 18 or even older. However, in order for cats to live a long full life, they need proactive veterinary care to stay healthy.

As cats age, they are at greater risk for chronic diseases and health complications. However, cats are also masters at hiding illness. Semi-annual veterinary appointments are the best way to monitor a cat’s well being. For a senior cat, six months can be the equivalent of two years – a number of health changes can happen during this period.

During a wellness exam, a veterinarian will check a cat’s weight and body condition, skin and coat quality, eyes, ears, thyroid, heart, lungs, joints, mouth and abdomen. A veterinarian may also conduct diagnostic blood work and parasite screenings. While physical changes are easily noticed (e.g., weight loss or change in coat quality), internal changes are more difficult to detect. Diagnostic tests provide an important snapshot of a cat’s internal health and can detect problems such as hyperthyroidism and kidney disease.

Feline hyperthyroidism and kidney problems are the most common health conditions affecting older cats. Hyperthyroidism affects many organs in the body, including the heart. Hyperthyroidism can lead to secondary heart disease as well as hypertension (high blood pressure). Kidney disease can also cause hypertension. Your veterinarian can check for this during your cat’s exam. Blood  tests during a semi-annual wellness screening are the best way to detect hyperthyroidism and kidney problems. With early diagnosis, medical treatments can be very successful in managing these disease.  These are examples  of why proactive veterinary care is so important for senior cats.

Wellness exams are also an opportunity to evaluate a cat’s dietary needs. As cats age, their nutritional needs change.  For example, cats with kidney problems should have a diet low in protein and phosphorus. Less active cats may need to be fed less in order to prevent weight gain and obesity. Other cats may become disinterested in food, resulting in weight loss. Cats that lose their sense of taste and smell may also lose interest in eating. Unfortunately, gradual weight loss can also go unnoticed, especially for longhaired cats. This is why nutrition evaluations and regular weigh-ins are so important.

Just like humans, cats will have different wellness needs as they age. Some cats may need a special diet while other cats may need medication to manage a chronic disease. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations based on your cat’s wellness needs.

Does My Cat Need Senior Care?

Could your cat benefit from senior care? Like people, cats all age at different rates. Generally speaking, senior cats are between the ages of 11 to 14 years, which is the equivalent of 60 to 72 years for humans. Look out for the following age-related changes in your cat’s behavior:

•    Drinking more water than normal
•    More urine in the litter box than normal
•    Weight loss, may occur in spite of a ravenous appetite
•    Nails that don’t shed, and grow into their pads
•    Change in appetite or unwillingness to eat
•    Changes in litter box habits
•    Changes in behavior and mood

These are signs that your cat needs additional veterinary care.

Sources:

American Association of Feline Practitioners. Friends for Life, Caring for your Older Cat.

Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

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Understanding Renal Failure in Cats

Instead of a product review this week (I am waiting on my tester, Isis, to test out the product I wanted to review this week), I am sharing this article Isis’ vet sent to me.  It deals with renal failure and is a good read:

What Every Cat Owner Needs to Know

Acute renal failure and chronic renal failure are two health problems that commonly affect cats. Acute renal failure can affect cats at any age; emergency care is essential to treating this condition and saving a cat’s life. Chronic renal failure typically occurs in senior cats. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, 49% of all cats over the age of 15 are affected by chronic renal disease. With the diagnosis of kidney problems and renal failure in cats increasingly common, it is essential that cat owners learn the symptoms of this disease and how best to manage the disease.

Kidneys play a critical role in day-to-day functions. The kidneys remove metabolic waste from the blood stream, and produce vital hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate red blood cell production.  The kidneys follow a complex system for managing and regulating waste; when this system breaks down, severe complications may occur to a cat’s other organs that can ultimately lead to death.

Acute Renal Failure

Acute renal failure is caused by a blockage in the blood flow to the kidneys or the urine away from the kidneys, or due to damage to the kidney tissue itself.  The most common cause for acute renal failure is the ingestion of toxic substances such as antifreeze, anti inflammatory drugs, or lilies.  When acute renal failure is detected and treated early, a full recovery is possible.  Although many times the cat will have only a partial recovery from the acute crisis, and eventually go into chronic renal failure,

Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure is an incurable condition primarily affecting older cats. It is often the end-stage for other health problems, such as advanced dental disease or a kidney inflammation/obstruction. Thanks to veterinary care advancements, however, with early diagnosis and proper treatment, it is often possible to give the cat a good quality of life for many years.

Treatment for renal failure depends on the condition’s cause and severity. In the case of acute renal failure, if a kidney is blocked by an obstruction, it may be possible to surgically remove the blockage and correct the problem. For chronic renal failure, treatment focuses on diet, fluids, and medications to control secondary problems, such as high blood pressure and anemia that may occur.

There are many brands of diets made for kidney problems in the cat; all have a reduced amount of protein and phosphorus, and may have added potassium.  Talk to your veterinarian before changing your cat’s diet.

The main treatment for both kinds of kidney failure is fluids.  Hospitalization with intensive fluid therapy is required for acute kidney failure, and often also used for the more severe stage of chronic.  Once the cat is stabilized, many veterinarians will have you give fluids subcutaneously at home.  They will teach you how to give the special fluid under the skin.  Cats are surprisingly tolerant of this.

Other medications may include appetite stimulants, stomach acid reducers such as Pepcid, phosphate binders, potassium supplements, and injectable erythropoietin, which is used to stimulate red blood cell production in the anemic cat.  It is very common for cats with kidney problems to have high blood pressure, and therefore need hypertension medication.
While kidney problems are very common in they cat, the disease can often be managed well for many years.

Could My Cat Have Kidney Failure?

Renal failure can occur in cats of any age, although senior cats are at increased risk for chronic renal failure. For both acute and chronic renal failure, early diagnosis can make a significant difference for a cat’s long-term health prognosis.

As a cat owner, look out for the following symptoms of kidney problems in your cats:
•    Increased water consumption and urination, or greatly reduced water consumption
•    Increased amount of urine in the litter box
•    Marked weight loss/loss of appetite
•    Vomiting

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from chronic or acute renal failure, contact your veterinarian. Your cat’s life may depend upon it.

Sources:

American Association of Feline Practitioners, “Feline Chronic Renal Disease.”

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Diagnosis: Kidney Disease.”

Acute Vomiting In Cats

Isis’ vet has shared this article with me from the Petmd website.  It is a great website and a good article.  If your cat is vomiting often, there may be an answer here.

Sudden Onset of Vomiting in Cats

 

Cats will commonly vomit from time to time, often because they might have eaten something that upset their stomachs, or simply because they have sensitive digestive systems. However, the condition becomes acute when the vomiting does not stop and when there is nothing left in the cat’s stomach to throw up except bile. It is important you take your pet to a veterinarian in these cases.

 

While vomiting may have a simple, straightforward cause, it may be an indicator of something far more serious. It is also problematic because it can have a wide range of causes, and determining the correct one may be complicated.

 

The condition described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this condition affects dogs, please visit this page in the petMD health library.

 

Symptoms

 

Some of the more common symptoms include:

 

  • Weakness
  • Non-stop vomiting
  • Pain and distress
  • Bright blood in the stool or vomit (hematemesis)
  • Evidence of dark blood in the vomit or stool (melena)

 

Causes

 

Some possible risk factors include:

 

  • Tumors
  • Heat stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Changes in the diet
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Gobbling food/eating too fast
  • Allergic reaction to a particular food
  • Food intolerance (beware of feeding an animal “people” food)
  • Adrenal gland disease
  • Dislocation of the stomach
  • Intestinal parasites (worms)
  • Obstruction in the esophagus
  • Metabolic disorders such as kidney disease

 

Diagnosis

 

Bring a sample of the vomit to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then take the cat’s temperature and examine its abdomen. If it turns out to be no more than a passing incident, the veterinarian may ask you to limit the cat’s diet to clear fluids and to collect stool samples over that period, as the underlying cause may be passed along in the stool. Occasionally, the cat’s body may use vomiting to clear the intestines of toxins.

 

If the vomit contains excessive amounts of mucus, an inflamed intestine may be the cause. Undigested food in the vomit can be due to food poisoning, anxiety, or simply overeating. Bile, on the other hand, indicates an inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis.

 

If bright red blood is found in the vomit, the stomach could be ulcerated. However, if the blood is brown and looks like coffee grounds, the problem may be in the intestine. Strong digestive odors, meanwhile, are usually observed when there is an intestinal obstruction.

 

If the obstruction is suspected in the cat’s esophagus, the veterinarian will conduct an oral exam. Enlarged tonsils are a good indicator of such an obstruction.

Treatment

 

Treatment is dependent on the underlying cause of the vomiting; some of the veterinarian’s possible suggestions include:

 

  • Dietary changes
  • Medication to control the vomiting (e.g., cimetidine, anti-emetic)
  • Antibiotics, in the case of bacterial ulcers
  • Corticosteroids to treat inflammatory bowel disease
  • Surgery, in the case of tumor-caused vomiting
  • Special medications for treating chemotherapy induced vomiting

 

Living and Management

 

Always follow the recommended treatment plan from your veterinarian. Do not experiment with medications or food. Pay close attention to your cat and if it does not improve, return to your veterinarian for a follow-up evaluation.

 

Cat Dental Health – Resorptive Lesions

My vet shared this article with me and I thought I would pass it along.  The lesions cause pain, so it is definitely a good idea to get your cats dental health taken care of annually:

 

Cats are prone to a serious and very painful dental disease called “tooth resorption.” Various studies have found 28-67% of cats have tooth resorption. Tooth resorption is the most common cause of tooth loss in cats.

Tooth resorption results in the loss of tooth structure, starting with the outer enamel surface, usually at or below the gum line. The lesions, which are NOT cavities, begin as a loss of tooth enamel and can eventually spread to the dentin and then the pulp canal, which contains the blood vessels and nerves to the tooth. Sometimes, the entire crown of the tooth may be missing.

Tooth resorption is progressive and may be singular or multiple and on either side of the tooth. Some lesions are readily apparent and others may be hidden under areas of plaque or swollen gums. This is why a cat needs to be anesthetized to determine if such lesions are present: the entire surface of each tooth must be examined.

The cause of resorptive lesions is unknown. One theory is that the inflammation caused by plaque may stimulate cells called “odontoclasts,” which eat away at the enamel of the tooth. Other possible causes include autoimmune disorders, changes in pH in the mouth, viral diseases, or a problem with calcium metabolism.

Resorptive lesions that have eroded through the enamel may be very painful. Cats with oral pain may appear irritable or aggressive, have a change in appetite or food preference, and may have difficulty chewing and eating (food falls from their mouth). Cats with resorptive lesions may show pain when their jaws are touched and may also have increased salivation or oral bleeding.

 

STAGE I: Loss of enamel only, extending
less than 0.5 mm into the tooth.
STAGE II: Lesion extends into the dentin.
STAGE III: Lesion extends into the pulp
canal, but good tooth structure remains.
STAGE IV: Lesion extends into the pulp canal
and there is extensive loss of tooth
structure.
STAGE V: Crown of tooth is missing, but
roots are present.
Resorptive Lesions

Dental radiographs are essential in diagnosing this condition and evaluating the extent of disease. Resorption lesions are graded according to the amount of tooth that is lost (see right).

Depending upon the stage of resorption, the entire tooth with the roots may be extracted, or only a portion of the tooth is removed. Cats who have a history of tooth resorption should have a prophylaxis (professional dental cleaning) every six months. Good home dental care is important for cats with tooth resorption.

Source: Dr. Foster’s Smith.com

Vegetarian…Cats?!?

As most people know, cats are carnivores.  They need and require the nutrients (taurine) from meat in order to live a full, active and healthy life.  There are people who have turned into vegetarians for ethical reasons and wish to provide the same diet for their pets.

Cats can get taurine from chemically processed resources when they are vegetarian however, it’s not the same as what they are provided in their natural diet.  With commercial foods contributing to diabetes, heart disease and obesity in our pets these days, it’s no wonder people want to switch to a better, healthier diet, but when a cat is used to having meat as their main resource, are we harming them by giving them a diet made mostly of vegetables?
An important note is that cats who have a natural diet made of mostly meat have a low pH, while cats consuming vegetables tend to have a higher pH, thus leading to issues with diabetes.

It is a very heated topic in the veterinary world, with many vets experiencing sick cats as a result of this style of diet.  While I can understand people wanting to adopt this diet for their cat, I agree with the vet when they said this in the article: “Personally, I believe that when we voluntarily adopt cats into our homes, we are ethically obligated to honor the feline spirit and feed it according to its basic nature. But everyone needs to answer that question from their own heart.”

To read more about this controversial diet, here is the article.

Care For Your Senior Cat

It happens whether we want it to or not – our cats start to grow old and with that, comes the issues of the senior cat.  Some become forgetful, others go blind, and some seem to not be affected outwardly, but end up feeling the effects of age internally with digestive issues, bone and joint issues, or any combination of the above.

What can we, as pet parents, do for our cats?  If your cat is confused, changing in eating or drinking habits, or doing strange vocalizations, it is time to make an appointment and get to the vet, as these can be signs of a cognitive disorder.

As your cat grows older, keeping a regular schedule for them helps for a forgetful cat.  Keeping an environment as stress free as possible, meaning not moving their watering fountain or their food bowl, not introducing a new cat or new animal and allowing your cat to live out their golden years as easy as possible, will make the transition to senior cat life easy.

Knowing your cat and their habits is essential, if they start to deviate in a strange manner that doesn’t seem right to you, call your vet and discuss what your next steps should be.

It is never easy when having a senior pet, especially when the time comes to say goodbye to our friend and family member.

For more information on caring for your senior cat, this article explains more.

I know I have a previous post on senior care, but this is an important subject which needs several posts.

Cats and Pancreatitis

The pancreas is an organ in the body that helps to metabolize sugar and regulate insulin.  Pancreatitis basically means neither of these are able to happen because the pancreas has become inflamed.  This can be incredibly painful and it can be a lethal disease if it is not treated in a timely manner.

There are many health issues that can contribute to pancreatitis occurring in your cat.  If your cat has taken antibiotics, that can be an issue.  Also, anti-cancer drugs and ingestion of insecticides can make things worse.

Inflammatory bowel disease, abdominal surgery, and abnormally high calcium in the blood play a part in this disease.

Of course, sometimes genetics (Siamese cats) are more susceptible to getting this disease.

Here are some symptoms that your cat may exhibit if they have this disease.  This is just a short list and there can be many other symptoms present:

  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Not as common a symptom, but some cats who get this disease will vomit frequently.
  • Abdominal pain (if you try to pick up your cat, they may growl and hiss as the pain can be excruciating.  Remember, cats are prideful animals and hate to show when they are ill, so if this is something that they do, you should see your vet).
  • Jaundice
  • Increased heart rate/abnormal heart beat
  • If your cat has an advanced case, they can develop sepsis (a total body infection).

Getting your cat to the vet immediately is the best way to fight this disease.  They will perform a blood count and urinalysis to determine if this is what your cat is suffering from.

To treat your cat, the vet will rehydrate, give pain relief, keep watch on nutrition and prevent anything worse happening.

If your cat is vomiting profusely, medications may be given to stop this, and food will probably be withheld for 24 hours so that the pancreas has time to not have to metabolize anything and relax.

To find out more, usual prognosis, and further long term treatment, this article will explain it all.

Licking Around The Tail

For the longest time, I used to think the only reason a cat (or dog) would lick around or underneath their tail was because they had fleas.  Well apparently I was very wrong.

There are several reasons this can occur.  If you have a female cat or dog, this could mean that she has a uterine infection, or she could have a bout of vaginitis.  Getting your cat or dog to the vet quickly so that they can get relief from the itching and pain is essential.  As well, if cats are not spayed, they will lick themselves when they are in heat or when they are getting ready to give birth.

Of course, if your cat or dog does lick or bite around their tail, it can be a flea problem and getting flea medication from your vet is best.  This will help kill the fleas and give your pets the relief and less stress from having to constantly scratch, lick or bite what is attacking them.

Another issue could be Anal Gland Disease.  This is something that affects many cats and dogs.  Usually the glands will need to be expressed.  I would suggest going to the vet and having them show you how to express the glands, and if it is not a severe case, they may be able to tell you that you can do it at home.

If your cat or dog is licking around the tail, but shows no signs of distress, nor do they do it obsessively, then it could just be that your pet is performing regular grooming rituals.

It is a fine line as to when licking around the tail becomes an issue.  Just observe your pet and trust your instincts.  Also, you can read this article for more information.  On the left hand side of the page is a block called “FAQ Article Library”, where you can look up ailments and check out what your pet may have and whether you need to visit the vet.  On the safe side, it would be good to see your vet if you are worried about anything your pet may be suffering from.

Not Again – Diamond Pet Food Recall Now Includes Cat Food

I just saw this posted and needed to share with my other furbaby cat parents:

Diamond Pet Foods has now expanded its pet food recall once again. The latest recall includes dry cat food manufactured by Diamond.

The Diamond CAT FOOD brands affected by the recall include:

  • Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul
  • Country Value
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Naturals
  • Premium Edge
  • Professional
  • 4Health
  • Taste of the Wild

ONCE AGAIN, PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS RECALL COVERS DRY CAT FOOD, NOT JUST DRY DOG FOOD AS ORIGINALLY REPORTED. Information about this recall appears to be still unfolding, so please continue to monitor the Internet, our website and the Diamond recall website for more details.

IF YOU HAVE CAT FOOD AFFECTED BY THIS RECALL, please return it to that store promptly and safely.

Salmonella poses a serious health risk to humans as well as pets, so be sure to follow extreme safety precautions when handling and disposing of any affected food that has been opened. (Reportedly over a dozen people have been sickened by food affected by this recall.)

Always wash your hands after handling affected food. Also wash and disinfect any areas that have come into contact with the affected food. (Don’t handle affect food if you are pregnant or have open sores on your hands.)  Be sure to dispose of possibly affected food in a way that makes it in accessible to pets, children and wildlife.

Click here for complete safety guidelines.

For more information on the recall, please visit the Diamond recall website:http://diamondpetrecall.com/

Keeping Your Cat Cool In The Heat

With the warmer weather here and sure to rise, we worry about whether our kitties are cool enough or are they overheating.  There are many ways to help our kitties beat the heat, but one I want to stress on more than others.

This weekend, my husband and I were out shopping.  In a car parked beside us, we saw a kitten on the back seat, kind of breathing heavier than usual.  It was quite warm outside (about 85F).  I can only imagine in the car with ALL the windows rolled up, it must have been about 110+F.

I started to get upset, I couldn’t stand seeing the kitten in the car, windows up, not running the a/c, and who knows how long the kitten was in there or how long they would last without some air or water, or what have you.

I waited outside the car for what felt like an eternity but was only 10 minutes.  The owners came out and I asked them if they knew that leaving a cat in the car without air can actually make the animal very ill and possibly kill them.  The people said they weren’t in the store for very long and opened the door to their car.  I said to them to just watch how their kitten was breathing, that it needed water and something to help cool the kitten down.

Of course they didn’t seem to pleased with me, but I was not very pleased with them.  I took down the license plate and am debating calling animal control.  That is no way to treat an animal, something that is living and breathing and relies on a human to care for it.

The point of all this is NEVER EVER leave your cat/dog/bird/reptile/rabbit/any living thing in the car on a hot day with the windows up and no A/C.  It can kill them.

This article has more informative ways to care for your kitty and make sure they are nice and cool this summer season.  The tips also apply to dogs.