Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body cannot properly produce or respond to the hormone insulin. Insulin regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream and delivers glucose to the tissues of the body to use as energy. Diabetes results in elevated levels of glucose in the blood. The most common form of diabetes in cats is type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, glucose levels are high because cells in the body do not respond appropriately to insulin.
Diabetes is the second most common endocrine disease in cats. (The body’s endocrine system consists of several glands—in the case of diabetes, that gland is the pancreas—that make hormones, which are chemical messengers to control organs throughout the body.)
Cats are typically diagnosed with diabetes between the ages of 10 and 13 years. More cats are acquiring diabetes as the number of overweight or obese cats grows. The average cat that weighs 13 pounds or more has about four times the risk of developing diabetes as a smaller cat. Signs of diabetes can include increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, and increased appetite.
When a cat is suspected of having diabetes, a veterinarian will perform blood and urine testing. Diabetes is indicated if blood testing shows an elevated glucose level (hyperglycemia) and urine testing shows evidence of glucose in the urine (glucosuria).
Because stress in cats can lead to both hyperglycemia and glucosuria, another confirmation test called fructosamine is usually done. Fructosamine concentration reflects the average glucose concentration for the past 1 to 2 weeks and is not impacted by stress. If this test comes back as elevated, the diagnosis of diabetes is confirmed.
Insulin is the treatment of choice for cats with diabetes. This typically requires twice daily administration. In addition, dietary management can be an important component of managing diabetes in cats. A high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet is recommended. Weight loss is also an important component of diabetic management in overweight cats. Weight loss, if attempted, should ideally be gradual, one-half percent to 1% of total body weight lost per week.
The goals of treatment are to maintain a healthy blood glucose, stop or control unintended weight loss, stop or control increased thirst and urination, and avoid hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).
Unlike dogs, cats can reach diabetic remission; these cats have near-normal blood glucose levels without receiving insulin or other blood-sugar–lowering medication. However, cats in diabetic remission require close monitoring to ensure that they do not relapse. Remission is not achievable in every diabetic cat.
Blood glucose curves are used to monitor response to insulin dosing. If a blood glucose curve is performed at home, pet owners measure the first blood glucose reading before the insulin injection. Then, they test every 2 to 4 hours until the next dose of insulin, depending on the type of insulin used. Performing curves at home eliminates the stress of coming to the clinic, which can affect the accuracy of the testing. Owners may need to perform a blood glucose curve several times to find the right dose for their cat.
One method of measuring glucose is by using a glucose meter calibrated for feline blood, such as a AlphaTRAK3. Another way is by using a continuous glucose monitor, such as a FreeStyle Libre. These monitors can be picked up at a human pharmacy and installed by a veterinarian or veterinary technician. Other important monitoring tests include serial bloodwork and urine testing. Your veterinarian will help determine the frequency at which these tests should be performed.
Monitoring your cat’s level of thirst and urination, weight, and appetite are important throughout treatment. These measures can give clues as to how well the diabetes is being managed. Unfortunately, monitoring response to treatment in diabetic cats can be frequent and expensive.
Complications of Diabetes
One complication of diabetes is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This problem occurs when there is not enough insulin in the body to control the amount of glucose in the blood. DKA happens in uncontrolled diabetics. Without the proper amount of insulin in the body, glucose cannot be used as an energy source. Instead, the body breaks down fat, which produces ketone bodies. With high levels of ketones, the body becomes more acidic, which disrupts fluid and electrolyte balance. Left untreated, the resulting abnormal electrolyte balance may lead to abnormal heart rhythms and muscle function and death. Signs of DKA can include increased thirst or urination, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, increased respiratory rate, decreased appetite, and weight loss.
The other complication is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which may arise when insulin therapy lowers the blood sugar significantly. Signs of hypoglycemia include weakness, lethargy, vomiting, lack of coordination, seizures, and coma. Hypoglycemia can be fatal if left untreated. A diabetic cat that shows any of these signs should be offered its regular food immediately. If the cat does not eat voluntarily, it should be given oral glucose in the form of honey, corn syrup, or dextrose gels and brought to a veterinarian immediately. However, if a cat is seizing or comatose, oral glucose methods should not be attempted.
If you’ve noticed changes to your cat’s eating and drinking habits as well as weight, please have them seen by a veterinarian for additional testing to be done as soon as possible.
By Jeanette Barragan, DVM
¡Orinar o defecar fuera de la caja de arena puede ser muy frustrante para todos! También puede ser la primera, y a veces la única, señal de que algo anda mal. Se recomienda encarecidamente una visita al veterinario cada vez que haya un comportamiento inusual en nuestras mascotas, particularmente la micción inapropiada. Mientras tanto, considere lo siguiente:
Todos los gatos necesitan satisfacer sus necesidades básicas. Sin embargo, cuando hay varios gatos en el hogar, es particularmente importante asegurarse de que haya muchos recursos en forma de cajas de arena, estaciones de alimentación, espacios verticales, estaciones para dormir, escondites y tazones de agua. El castigo es ineficaz y confuso para los gatos. El entrenamiento basado en recompensas ayuda a mejorar la comunicación al tiempo que proporciona estimulación mental e interacción humana positiva. Los juguetes dispensadores de alimentos y rompecabezas imitan la caza y fomentan la exploración de su ambiente, reduciendo los niveles generales de estrés y satisfaciendo las necesidades básicas.
Los modelos generales que le ayudarán a satisfacer las necesidades básicas de la caja de arena incluyen las siguientes sugerencias:
- Tenga una caja de arena más que gatos para que los gatos más quisquillosos puedan encontrar una caja limpia. ¡La regla es 1 caja de arena por gato más una extra!
- La ubicación importa: los gatos prefieren un área tranquila y aislada, lejos de electrodomésticos ruidosos, hornos, aire acondicionado y áreas de tráfico pesado.
Considere el uso de feromonas como Feliway para reducir el estrés si ha tenido cambios recientes dentro del hogar (nuevo bebé o mascota, mudanza, visitas, etc.)
- El tamaño importa: las cajas de arena deben ser al menos 1.5 veces la longitud del cuerpo del gato y aproximadamente 3 veces más anchas que el gato.
¡Considera crear una nueva caja de arena a partir de un contenedor de almacenamiento si no puedes encontrar una lo suficientemente grande! Las cajas de suéteres debajo de la cama son excelentes cajas de arena.(YouTube tiene muchos videos geniales DIY)
El aumento de peso y la obesidad es un gran problema para nuestros amigos felinos. Además de dificultar encontrar una caja lo suficientemente grande, el exceso de grasa afecta negativamente a la salud y la longevidad de un gato. Tienen un mayor riesgo de cáncer, diabetes y problemas cardíacos. También son propensos a la artritis y a una degeneración más rápida de las articulaciones afectadas: ¡puede doler saltar a la caja o adoptar la postura para ir al baño!
- Saca la caja varias veces al día.
- Incluso con arenas aglomeradas, deseche la caja al menos una o dos veces por semana.
- Lave la caja semanalmente, enjuague bien y seque al aire para eliminar cualquier olor del agente de limpieza. El agua caliente y el jabón son los mejores para la limpieza.
- No use arena perfumada, revestimientos o aditivos como bicarbonato de sodio.
- Si al gato le gusta cavar, haz que la arena sea profunda. Si el gato sacude la arena de sus patas, haz que la arena sea poco profunda o cambia a un tipo diferente (aserrín granulado, trigo sarraceno, etc.).
- Lavar, enjuagar y secar cualquier área que el gato haya ensuciado fuera de la caja y luego use un buen removedor de olores. Los mejores ayudan a descomponer enzimáticamente los compuestos de la orina y hacen que algunos odorantes sean demasiado pesados para ser inhalados. NO use lejía ni productos pesados similares.
- De todos modos, siga al gato y vea lo que elige, imite esa elección.
Are You Finding Pee or Poop Outside the Litter Box?
Urinating or defecating outside the litter box can be very frustrating for all! It can also be the very first, and sometimes only, sign that something is wrong. A veterinary visit is highly encouraged any time there is unusual behavior in our pets, particularly inappropriate urination.
In the meantime, consider the following:
All cats need their basic needs met. However, when there are multiple cats in the household, it is particularly important to make sure there are plenty of resources in the form of litter boxes, feeding stations, vertical spaces, sleeping stations, hiding areas, and water bowls. Punishment is ineffective and confusing for cats. Reward-based training helps to improve communication while providing mental stimulation and positive human interaction. Food dispensing and puzzle toys mimic hunting and encourage exploration of their environment, reducing overall stress levels and meeting basic needs.
General guidelines that will help you meet the basic litter box needs include the following suggestions.
- Have one more litter box than you have cats so that fussier cats can find a clean box. The rule is 1 litter box per cat plus an extra!
- Location matters: cats prefer a quiet, secluded area away from loud appliances, furnaces, air conditioning, and heavy traffic areas.
Consider using pheromones like Feliway for stress reduction if you have had recent changes within the household (new baby or pet, moving, visits, etc.)
- Size matters: litter boxes should be at least 1.5 times the length of the cat’s body and about 3 times as wide as the cat so the cat can move and turn around.
Consider creating a new litter box out of a storage bin if you cannot find one big enough! Underbed sweater boxes make great litter boxes. (YouTube has many great DIY videos.)
Weight gain and obesity is a huge problem for our feline friends. Apart from making it difficult to find a box that is big enough, excess fat negatively impacts a cat’s health and longevity. Heavy cats are at a higher risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart issues. They are also prone to arthritis and faster degeneration of the affected joints. It may hurt to jump into the box or posture to potty!
- Scoop the box multiple times a day.
- Even with clumpable litters, dump the box at least once or twice a week.
- Wash the box weekly, rinse well, and air dry to remove any odor of the cleaning agent. Hot water and soap are best for cleaning.
- Do not use scented litter, liners, or additives like baking soda.
- If the cat likes to dig, make the litter deep. If the cat flicks the litter from his or her feet, make the litter shallow or switch to a different type (pelleted sawdust, buckwheat, etc.).
- Wash, rinse, and dry any area the cat has soiled outside the box and then use a good odor eliminator. The best ones help to enzymatically break down urine compounds and make some odorants too heavy to be sniffed. Do NOT use bleach or similar heavy products.
- Regardless, follow the cat around and see what that cat chooses – mimic that choice.
—Dr. Ana Valbuena
“Prevention is cheaper than treatment.” A quote that I will forever remember from Dr. Vinu, a primary care veterinarian I worked for during my undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Vaccines are very critical in cats and dogs, and the vaccine series are started at a very young age. Some vaccines even need to be boosted in order for the pet to reach adequate immunity.
There are many different vaccines in cats and dogs. Some vaccines are core vaccines, meaning that they are recommended in every patient, and some are considered lifestyle vaccines, meaning that it depends on what your pet does.
Is your dog frequently boarded at a boarding facility or often goes to grooming, where they might be surrounded by many other dogs? Does your dog go to forest preserves or on camping trips where they can be exposed to ticks? Is your cat a strictly indoor cat or an indoor/outdoor cat?
All of those are great questions that are usually asked at the beginning of your annual wellness exam. Yes, we may ask many, many questions during your pet’s wellness exam, but we are putting the puzzle pieces together to recommend the best vaccine schedule for your pet.
Rabies Vaccine in Dogs AND Cats
Having your pet vaccinated for rabies is required by law. It is recommended that the canine and feline rabies vaccine be administered at 4 months of age. However, it is sometimes given earlier in a shelter setting. The first rabies vaccine is usually a 1-year vaccine, while the following year your pet can get either the 1-year or 3-year vaccine.
Rabies is transmitted via bite wounds, usually by wildlife like skunks, bats, racoons, and foxes. The virus attaches to local muscle cells, then penetrates local nerves and ascends to the brain.
There is no reliable effective treatment for rabies. Infection usually results in death of the animal. Once clinical signs are present, death can occur within 10 days.
If your pet bites another animal or human and is not up to date on their rabies vaccine, depending on their vaccine history, they might have to be confined and observed at a veterinary facility for 10 days. If the animal shows any symptoms or there is suspicion that the pet might have rabies, their brain tissue must be submitted for sampling. This means that they must be humanely euthanized for tissue submission.
Regulations can vary by state or county, so it is important to keep up with current regulations. Visit rabiesaware.org for more information regarding regulations in your area. Ultimately, prevention consists of vaccination as well as limiting exposure to wildlife. Please visit your local veterinarian if your pet is not up to date on the rabies vaccine.
Vaccines in Dogs: Distemper (DAPP)
The second core vaccine in dogs is the distemper vaccine (DAPP). This vaccine protects against the Distemper Virus, Parvovirus, Adenovirus 1 & 2, and Parainfluenza virus. The DAPP vaccine is started at 8 weeks of age and must be boostered at least 3 times, 3 to 4 weeks apart.
This means that your puppy will get a DAPP vaccine at 8 weeks,12 weeks, and 16 weeks old. After the initial puppy series, the vaccine becomes annual. It is also available in a 3-year version, which can be the year after your puppy’s initial vaccine series.
Parvovirus is a common viruses affecting puppies. Any puppy with clinical signs consisting of vomiting and diarrhea should be tested for parvovirus. A diagnosis can be made from a fecal sample.
Intensive supportive care is needed to treat a dog that has been infected with parvovirus. Supportive care consists of hospitalization, fluid therapy, antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, anti-diarrheal medication, and monitoring blood work changes (particularly your dog’s white blood cells). Be prepared for a 5- to 7-day hospitalization as well as an expensive bill, depending on the severity of your dog’s illness.
Without treatment, this virus can be fatal. Prevention is cheaper than treatment.
Vaccines in Dogs: Leptospirosis
Although the canine Leptospirosis vaccine is not a core vaccine, it is highly recommended in areas that have a high rodent population. It can be given as early as 12 weeks of age and needs to be boostered 3 to 4 weeks after an initial dose is given. After that, it is given annually.
Dogs can become infected with this bacterium via open wounds or mucus membranes coming into contact with infected urine or infected water or soil. This bacterium can survive for weeks to months in the environment, so it is important to have your pet vaccinated if you live in an area that has a high rodent population.
Leptospirosis is zoonotic, which means that humans can get infected as well. An infection can quickly lead to organ damage and can affect the kidneys and liver. Clinical signs can be very nonspecific, and treatment consists of antibiotics and supportive care. In severe cases infection can lead to irreversible organ damage.
Vaccines in Dogs: Bordetella
The canine Bordetella vaccine covers Canine Kennel Cough. It requires no booster and is given annually, although in some cases it is recommended to be given every 6 months. It can be delivered either intranasally or subcutaneously.
Bordetella is essentially an infectious bronchitis and is spread within respiratory secretions from an infected dog. In crowded situations with many animals, for example, at a boarding or grooming facility, dogs can be more predisposed to infection due to close contact as well as poor ventilation.
Clinical signs can range from mild to severe symptoms, such as a hacking cough and pneumonia. Treatment consists of antibiotics and quarantine. Keep in mind that many boarding and grooming facilities require this vaccine.
Vaccines in Dogs: Canine Influenza Virus
The canine influenza virus (CIV) vaccine requires one additional booster given 3 to 4 weeks after the initial dose. After that, it is given annually. It can be started as early as 16 weeks old.
Clinical signs can be very similar to Bordetella and can include cough, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Outbreaks are most commonly associated with kennels where dogs are in close contact. This virus is spread via nasal secretions. It can be hard to distinguish Bordetella from CIV, so treatment consists of controlling secondary signs and treating symptomatically. That means antibiotics and cough suppressants, depending on the severity.
Vaccines in Dogs: Lyme Disease
The canine Lyme vaccine is a lifestyle vaccine for dogs that frequently go to forest preserves or camping. If you live in a highly wooded area, this vaccine is highly recommended due to tick exposure. It can be given any time after 16 weeks of age and requires one additional booster 3 to 4 weeks after the first dose. After that, it is an annual vaccine.
Lyme disease is spread via a bite from infected ticks. Lyme disease can be diagnosed with a SNAP 4DX heartworm test, which entails a blood sample from your dog. Results are obtained in no more than 8 minutes. However, a positive Lyme result does not differentiate exposure to the disease from active infection.
Clinical signs can vary and can be very nonspecific. These can include fever, fatigue, and swollen joints. Treatment consists of antibiotics and managing secondary symptoms. Don’t forget your dog’s monthly flea and tick preventatives, which can greatly reduce the chance of infection with Lyme disease.
Vaccines in Cats: FVRCP
The Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) vaccine series, also called the cat distemper vaccine, should be started at 6 to 8 weeks of age. This is boostered every 3 to 4 weeks until your kitten is 16 weeks old. This vaccine is also available in a 3-year version that can be given the year after your kitten’s initial vaccine series.
Feline panleukopenia is similar to parvovirus in dogs. It is a very contagious and life-threatening infectious disease that can spread among cat colonies or cats housed with many other cats. An infected cat sheds the virus via secretions, e.g., feces, vomit, urine, saliva, and mucus membranes. Infection occurs when the virus enters through the nose or mouth.
The virus suppresses the immune system and depletes the cat’s white blood cells, leaving the infected individual immunosuppressed and vulnerable to other infectious diseases. Clinical signs can be nonspecific and include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.
Similar to parvovirus in dogs, treatment of a cat infected with panleukopenia consists of hospitalization, aggressive fluids therapy, antinausea and anti diarrheal medications, and supportive care.
Vaccines in Cats: Feline Leukemia Virus
If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, the feline leukemia vaccine is highly recommended due to socialization with other cats. This vaccine requires an additional booster 3 to 4 weeks after initial dose.
Feline leukemia virus (FLV) is spread through close social contact with saliva, blood, urine, or feces. There is no effective treatment, so treatment consists of supportive care. Prognosis after infection can be variable.
One Last Reminder
Vaccinating your dogs and cats is very important. If your pet is not up to date on vaccines or their annual wellness exam, please schedule an appointment with their primary care veterinarian to get their vaccines updated.
And remember, prevention is cheaper than treatment.
—Dr. Angelica Calderon
Vacunas en Perros y Gatos
La prevención es más barata que el tratamiento. Una cita que siempre recordaré del Dr. Vinu, una veterinaria con la que trabajé durante mis estudios en la UIC.
Las vacunas son muy críticas en gatos y perros y sus series se inician a una edad muy temprana, incluso algunas vacunas necesitan ser reforzadas para que la mascota alcance la inmunidad adecuada. Hay muchas vacunas diferentes en gatos y perros. Algunas vacunas son vacunas básicas, lo que significa que se recomiendan para todos los pacientes, y otras se consideran vacunas de estilo de vida, lo que significa que depende de lo que haga su mascota. Su perro se aloja con frecuencia en un centro de alojamiento o va frecuentemente a la peluquería, donde puede estar rodeado de muchos otros perros? Su perro va a reservas forestales o a viajes de campamento donde puede estar expuesto a las garrapatas? Su gato es un gato estrictamente de interior o un gato de interior/exterior? Todas esas son excelentes preguntas que generalmente se hacen al comienzo de su examen anual de bienestar. Sí, es posible que le hagamos muchas preguntas durante el examen de bienestar de su mascota, pero estamos reuniendo las piezas del rompecabezas para recomendar el mejor programa de vacunas para su mascota.
Vacuna contra la Rabia en Perros y Gatos
La ley exige que su mascota sea vacunada contra la rabia. Se recomienda que la vacuna contra la rabia canina y felina se administre a los 4 meses de edad, sin embargo, a veces se puede administrar antes en un refugio. La primera vacuna suele ser una vacuna de 1 año, sin embargo, al año siguiente, su mascota puede recibir la vacuna contra la rabia de 1 año o de 3 años.
La rabia se transmite a través de heridas por mordedura, generalmente por la vida silvestre como zorrillos, murciélagos, mapaches y zorros. El virus se adhiere a las células musculares locales y luego penetra en los nervios locales y asciende al cerebro. No existe un tratamiento eficaz y fiable para la rabia y la infección suele provocar la muerte del animal. Una vez que los signos clínicos están presentes, la muerte puede ocurrir dentro de los 10 días. Si su mascota muerde a otro animal o humano y no está al día con la vacuna contra la rabia, dependiendo de su historial de vacunas, es posible que deba ser confinado y observado en un centro veterinario durante 10 días. Si el animal muestra algún síntoma o se sospecha que la mascota pueda tener rabia, se debe enviar su tejido cerebral para la toma de muestras. Esto significa que deben ser sacrificados humanamente para la presentación de tejido. Las regulaciones pueden variar según el estado o el condado, por lo que es importante mantenerse al día con las regulaciones actuales. Puede visitar rabiesaware.org para obtener más información sobre las regulaciones en su área. En última instancia, la prevención consiste en vacunar y limitar la exposición a la vida silvestre. Visite a su veterinario local si su mascota no está al día con la vacuna contra la rabia.
Vacunas en Perros
La segunda vacuna básica en perros es la vacuna contra el distemper(DAPP). Esta vacuna protege contra los virus de distemper, el parvovirus, el adenovirus 1 y 2 y el virus de la parainfluenza. La vacuna DAPP se inicia a las 8 semanas de edad y debe reforzarse al menos 3 veces, con 3-4 semanas de diferencia. Esto significa que su cachorro recibirá la vacuna DAPP a las 8, 12 y 16 semanas de edad. Después de la serie inicial de cachorros, se vuelve anual. Esta vacuna también está disponible en un año 3 que se puede administrar el año siguiente después de la serie inicial de vacunas de sus cachorros.
El parvovirus es uno de los virus más comunes que cubre esta vacuna. Cualquier cachorro con signos clínicos que consisten en vómitos y diarrea debe someterse a una prueba de parvovirus y se puede llegar a un diagnóstico con una muestra fecal. Se necesitan cuidados intensivos para tratar a un perro que ha sido infectado con parvovirus y, en última instancia, el tratamiento es de apoyo. La atención de apoyo consiste en hospitalización, terapia de fluidos, antibióticos, medicamentos contra las náuseas, medicamentos contra la diarrea y el control de los cambios en los análisis de sangre (en particular, los glóbulos blancos de su perro). Esté preparado para una hospitalización de 5 a 7 días, así como para una factura costosa, según la gravedad de los síntomas de su perro. Sin tratamiento, este virus puede ser fatal. La prevención es más barata que el tratamiento.
Aunque la vacuna contra la leptospirosis canina no es una vacuna básica, es muy recomendable en áreas que tienen una alta población de roedores. Puede administrarse tan pronto como a las 12 semanas de edad y debe reforzarse 3 o 4 semanas después de administrar la dosis inicial. Después de eso, se da anualmente.
Los perros pueden infectarse con esta bacteria a través de heridas abiertas o membranas mucosas que entran en contacto con orina infectada o agua o tierra infectada. Esta bacteria puede sobrevivir durante semanas o meses en el medio ambiente, por lo que es importante vacunar a su mascota si vive en un área con una gran población de roedores. La leptospirosis es zoonótica, lo que significa que los humanos también pueden infectarse. Esto puede conducir rápidamente a daños en los órganos y puede afectar los riñones y el hígado. Los signos clínicos pueden ser muy inespecíficos y el tratamiento consiste en antibióticos y atención de apoyo; sin embargo, en casos graves, puede provocar daños irreversibles en los órganos.
La vacuna canina Bordetella cubre la tos canina. No requiere refuerzo y se administra anualmente, sin embargo en algunos casos se recomienda administrar cada 6 meses. Hay dos formas disponibles, por vía intranasal y por vía subcutánea.
Bordetella es esencialmente una bronquitis infecciosa y se transmite dentro de las secreciones respiratorias de un perro infectado. En situaciones de hacinamiento donde hay muchos animales en una instalación, por ejemplo, alojamiento o aseo, los perros pueden estar más predispuestos a la infección debido al contacto cercano y a la mala ventilación. Los signos clínicos pueden variar desde síntomas leves a graves, como tos seca, hasta neumonía. El tratamiento consiste en antibióticos y cuarentena durante el tratamiento. Tenga en cuenta que muchas instalaciones de alojamiento y aseo requiere esta vacuna.
Virus de la influenza canina (CIV):
La vacuna contra el virus de la influenza canina requiere un refuerzo adicional administrado de 3 a 4 semanas después de la primera dosis inicial, luego de lo cual se vuelve anual. Se puede iniciar desde las 16 semanas de edad.
Los signos clínicos pueden ser muy similares a los de Bordetella y pueden incluir tos, estornudos y secreción nasal. Los brotes se asocian más comúnmente con perreras donde los perros están en contacto cercano con otros perros y este virus se transmite a través de las secreciones nasales. Puede ser difícil distinguir Bordetella de CIV, por lo que el tratamiento consiste en controlar los signos secundarios y tratar sintomáticamente. Eso significa antibióticos y supresores de la tos, según la gravedad.
La vacuna canina de Lyme es una vacuna de estilo de vida. Esto significa que si tu perro va con frecuencia a reservas forestales o a acampar, o si vives en una zona muy boscosa, es muy recomendable debido a la exposición a las garrapatas. Se puede administrar en cualquier momento después de las 16 semanas de edad y requiere un refuerzo adicional de 3 a 4 semanas después de la primera dosis inicial. Después de eso, es una vacuna anual.
La enfermedad de Lyme se transmite a través de una picadura de garrapatas infectadas. La enfermedad de Lyme se puede diagnosticar con una prueba de gusano del corazón SNAP 4DX, que implica una muestra de sangre para su perro. Los resultados se obtienen en no más de 7-8 minutos. Sin embargo, incluso si su perro tiene un resultado positivo de Lyme, eso no diferencia la exposición frente a la infección activa. Los signos clínicos pueden variar y pueden ser muy inespecíficos. Estos pueden incluir fiebre, fatiga, articulaciones inflamadas, etc. El tratamiento consiste en antibióticos y el control de los síntomas secundarios. No olvide los preventivos mensuales contra pulgas y garrapatas de sus perros, ya que pueden reducir en gran medida la posibilidad de infección con la enfermedad de Lyme.
Vacunas en Gatos
La serie de vacunas FVRCP (moquillo felino) debe comenzar a las 6-8 semanas de edad. Esta vacuna requiere refuerzos y se refuerza cada 3-4 semanas hasta que tu gatito tenga 16 semanas. Esta vacuna también está disponible en un año 3 que se puede administrar el año siguiente después de la serie inicial de vacunas de sus gatitos.
FVRCP significa rinotraqueítis viral felina, calicivirus y panleucopenia. La panleucopenia felina es similar al parvovirus en perros. Esta es una enfermedad infecciosa muy contagiosa y potencialmente mortal que puede afectar a las colonias de gatos o a los gatos alojados con muchos otros gatos si una persona está infectada. Un gato infectado elimina el virus a través de secreciones, que incluyen heces, vómito, orina, saliva y membranas mucosas. La infección se produce cuando el virus entra por la nariz o la boca. El virus suprime el sistema inmunológico y agota los glóbulos blancos del gato, dejando al individuo infectado inmunosuprimido y vulnerable a otras enfermedades infecciosas. Los signos clínicos pueden ser inespecíficos e incluyen fiebre, vómitos, diarrea y letargo. Similar al parvovirus en perros, el tratamiento de un gato infectado con panleucopenia consiste en hospitalización, fluidoterapia agresiva, así como antináuseas, antidiarreicas y atención de apoyo.
Virus de la leucemia felina
Si su gato es un gato de interior/exterior, la vacuna contra la leucemia felina es muy recomendable debido a la socialización con otros gatos. Esta vacuna requiere un refuerzo adicional de 3 a 4 semanas después de la dosis inicial.
FeLV (virus de la leucemia felina) se propaga a través del contacto social cercano con saliva, sangre, orina, heces. No existe un tratamiento eficaz, por lo que el tratamiento consiste en cuidados de apoyo. El pronóstico después de la infección puede ser variable.
Es muy importante vacunar a sus perros y gatos. Si su mascota no está al día con las vacunas o su examen anual de bienestar, programe una cita con su veterinario de atención primaria para actualizar sus vacunas.
Y recuerda, la prevención es más barata que el tratamiento.
—Dr. Angelica Calderon
Hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrine disease in middle-aged and senior cats. It is typically diagnosed when the cat is 12 to 13 years old.
Like the name implies, hyperthyroidism is the increased production and secretion of thyroid hormones from an abnormally functioning and enlarged thyroid gland. Because thyroid hormones affect almost every organ in a cat’s body, having excessive hormones typically causes secondary health issues, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Hyperthyroidism can also mask kidney disease in cats.
In most cases, this disease is caused by a non-cancerous tumor, called an adenoma, on the thyroid gland. The exact cause of this disease in cats is not currently known.
Clinical Signs and Diagnosis
The most common sign of hyperthyroidism is weight loss in the face of an increased appetite. Over time, a cat with hyperthyroidism will become increasingly skinnier and may also lose muscle mass.
These cats may also experience increased thirst and urination, changes to their hair coat quality (more greasy, matted, or unkempt), vomiting, diarrhea, and increased vocalization.
Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is through a complete physical examination as well as lab testing (complete blood count, chemistry, urinalysis, and thyroid hormones). If cat has hyperthyroidism, a thyroid hormone called T4 will be elevated on these lab tests.
There are currently four methods of treatment for hyperthyroidism; all have the goal of returning thyroid hormone levels to normal. Treatment options include medical therapy with antithyroid drugs; dietary therapy with iodine-restricted diets; surgical removal of the thyroid gland; and radioactive iodine therapy.
Methimazole is the most common anti-thyroid medication. It reduces the production and release of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland. This therapy does not serve as a cure for the disease but allows for control.
Methimazole is relatively inexpensive and is either administered orally or as a transdermal gel that is applied to the ear. Both forms of medication are given twice a day. Some cats experience side effects of this medication within the first few months of starting it. These include vomiting, decreased appetite, lethargy, and skin itchiness that causes the cat to scratch and wound their face.
While on methimazole, repeated blood monitoring must be done to ensure the proper dosage is being used as well as to monitor kidney function and overall health. During the first 2 to 3 months of treatment, lab testing is done every 2 to 3 weeks. After thyroid hormone levels have normalized, monitoring is then done every 3 to 6 months.
Feeding an iodine-restricted diet is another therapeutic option. This approach works because iodine is needed for the body to produce thyroid hormones. For the best results, this diet must be fed exclusively and consistently. These diets have been shown to reduce the levels of thyroid hormones in 3 to 4 weeks. If normal thyroid hormone levels are not achieved within 12 weeks, a different form of treatment is usually selected. Dietary therapy is not effective if the cat does not like to eat the food or regularly has access to other forms of food.
Removal of the thyroid glands is another form of treatment. It is a straightforward procedure for a skilled surgeon and has a good success rate. Surgery has the advantage of being curative and eliminating the need for long-term medication administration. A risk of surgery is accidental damage to the parathyroid glands, which are located close to the thyroid glands. If the parathyroid glands are damaged, the cat’s body will have difficulty producing calcium. Because less invasive treatment options are available, surgery is rarely selected for treatment.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy
Radioactive iodine therapy is currently considered the treatment of choice for cats with hyperthyroidism. Radioactive iodine is given as an injection, which then travels through the bloodstream to the thyroid gland. The radiation from the radioactive iodine then destroys the abnormal thyroid tissue without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.
The radioactivity does not harm the cat but does pose a risk for humans. Due to this, cats undergoing this treatment are hospitalized for 3 to 5 days after treatment until the radiation levels are low. Cats are not allowed visitors during this time. In 95% of cases, this treatment is curative within 3 months. If not successful, the treatment can be repeated. In rare cases, a cat can become hypothyroid (producing too low levels of thyroid hormone), which then must be treated with thyroid hormone supplement.
Once hyperthyroidism is diagnosed and a form of treatment is selected, most cats do well. As medical therapy and dietary therapy are not curative, treatment is lifelong in these cases. Surgery and radioactive iodine therapy are considered curative, so lifelong treatment is not needed.
If your cat is experiencing any of the clinical signs mentioned, please reach out to your veterinarian to have your cat tested. If your cat is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you and your veterinarian can determine the best treatment option for your cat.
—Jeanette Barragan, DVM
…And What You Can Do to Help
After a decade in practice, I’m thankful I’ve only had to go the hospital for a cat bite once. Since then, I’ve gained a lot of experience and understanding of the feline psyche, and my best summation of how cats perceive going to the vet is this: It’s an alien abduction.
Think about it. For the most part, cats live their whole lives in a relatively small area, and an overwhelming majority of them love it that way.
The most important aspect of a cat’s life is their territory (which includes you). Their territory is their world, their home planet.
Most cats rarely travel in cars and only ever see a travel carrier when they are headed to the vet. Imagine, you’re living your life on your home planet, then you are forced into a pod, and thrust into a metal vessel, and taken to a faraway place that smells aseptic and strange. While there, a weird, hairless ape pokes and prods you. Then, you are thrust back into the pod, whisked home, and your owner acts like nothing happened.
I’m honestly surprised more cats haven’t attacked me. I’d like to think I’d put up a fight too, if I was abducted by aliens. However, maybe if they had a nice spread out and some calming aromatherapy, I’d be amenable to some polite questioning.
Making the Vet Visit as Low Stress as Possible
So that’s what we try to do for your feline family members. Here at Medical District Veterinary Clinic, we are Fear Free Certified. This means all the staff members here have taken training in how to make the veterinary experience as low stress as possible.
We have cat treats at the ready, Feliway spray aplenty, and a separate cat area. We also have gone to great lengths to learn how cats think and how to read their body language. We understand what’s important to them.
Cats often get a bad rap. People think that cats are aloof and don’t care about anything, but cats care about everything! Please know that we are doing our best to be peaceful and compassionate alien overlords.
Try This at Home
There are a few things you can do as well to make the trip to the vet a little less stressful. The first is getting your furry felines accustomed to the carriers you use to take them places.
Just bringing the carrier out before a vet visit can be a trigger. If you’re able to leave the carriers out, put your cat’s favorite treats or toys in there. This small step can help greatly to reduce your cat’s aversion to the carrier.
You can also try using products like Feliway spray, Composure treats for cats, or Rescue Remedy. If you think your kitty needs something stronger, talk to us and we may prescribe medications to help make the visit less stressful. For more information about eliminating the stress in your cat’s life, The Ohio State University Veterinary College has a wonderful site call the Indoor Pet Initiative with information about dogs and cats.
So remember, next time Fluffy’s wellness exam comes around, you may be envisioning All Creatures Great and Small, but they may be thinking more Schwarzenegger in Predator.
—Alyssa Kritzman, DVM
This is a question and a discussion that I have with clients daily. And to be honest, it’s a very difficult question to answer. I am going to give you a few tips on how to pick out a food that is best suited for your dog or cat.
I recommend feeding a food based on the life stage of your pet. The four life stages include growth, young adult, mature adult and senior. The below picture helps illustrate the life stages of cats. Canine life stages are pretty similar, but with more variation due to the vast size difference we see in the canine species. The growth life stage is typically done by 6-12 months of age. For cats the growth phase is typically finished by 6-10 months of age and I recommend transitioning to adult food around that time. If you have a puppy or kitten it is very important for proper growth and development to feed a puppy or kitten food. In the same manner as your pet is aging feeding a senior diet is important as they have different nutrient profiles.
You may ask what about an “All Life Stages” dog or cat food. For a company to market their food as “All Life Stages” the food must meet the nutritional requirements for all life stages. Therefore, most of these foods are formulated as a puppy/kitten food because puppies and kittens have the highest nutritional requirements of the four life stages. These foods can be good foods and well balanced, but they typically have a high caloric density. Therefore, in my experience, dogs are more likely to become overweight than if they were fed some other diets.
Does your pet have any health conditions that require a special diet? Prescription diets can play a vital role in management of many health conditions, including kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, allergies, and feline lower urinary tract disease.
If your pet suffers from a medical condition, diet can manage and help many conditions, so I always recommend considering a prescription diet if you pet has one of the above conditions.
More Expensive Does Not Mean Better
Many pet food companies are great at marketing but might not be as good at formulating diets. You can always look for the Nutritional Advocacy AFFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) Statement on each bag or can of food. These statements will tell you if the food has been through a food trial or formulated to meet particular feeding guidelines. The ingredient list should also list all ingredients in decreasing amounts by weight.
Labels are very confusing and often misleading to consumers. For example, if I made up a food with the following labels, the variation in ingredients can be drastic.
- If the term “All” is used, then the ingredient must make up 100% of product minus preservatives and water. So, this treat would be 100% beef
- If the listed ingredient is used, then the ingredient must make up 95% of product minus water. So, this Beef Dog Chow would be 95% beef on a dry matter basis.
- If the term “dinner,” “platter,” or “recipe” is used, then the ingredient must make up only 25% of product. So, this Beef Dinner is likely only 25% beef.
- If the term “with” is used, then the ingredient must make up only 5% of product. So, this Dog Chow with Beef is likely only 5% beef.
I hope this illustration helps demonstrate how confusing pet food labels can be to both consumers and veterinarians. I recommend visiting the AAFCO website if you want to be better educated about what’s in your pet’s food.
Say No to ‘Grain Free’
Does my pet need grain-free food? The answer is NO. There little to no research showing the true benefit of grain-free food. In fact, grain-free food has been shown to cause heart disease in some dogs. The exact cause is still being researched. Visit this site for more information. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/questions-answers-fdas-work-potential-causes-non-hereditary-dcm-dogs
What About Raw Food?
Some dogs do really well on raw food, but I do not recommend it. That’s because I see too many owners who try to feed raw but who are not feeding a balanced diet because they are solely feeding raw meat and limited other nutrients.
In the wild canines and felines will consume entire animals. Eating meat, skin, ingesta, organs, and bone makes up a balanced diet.
Raw can be balanced and can be a good diet for some animals, but there is also a public health risk with feeding these diets. This is a statement from the CDC:
“Germs like Salmonella and Listeria bacteria have been found in raw pet food, even packaged ones in stores. These germs can make your pet sick. Your family can also get sick by handling the food or by taking care of your pet.”Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Therefore, if there are young children or anyone who is immune-compromised in your house, I highly advise against feed raw pet foods.
Each Pet Is Different
I hope this information has been helpful and informative. I recommend discussing your pet’s daily calorie needs with your veterinarian as each pet is different, just like people. Two people that have ideal weights of 180 pounds may be able to eat very different diets to maintain their weight, and the same goes for cats and dogs. All 10-pound cats do not need the same daily calories.
The recommendations on the bag or can of food should only be a guide. Some animals may need more calories, but most will need less than the recommended amount to maintain an ideal weight. And always remember to factor in all treats and table scraps into their daily calories. Most pets are overweight these days.
—Dr. Drew Sullivan
For many people, the doctor’s office can be a scary place. So it is no surprise that many pets view going to the vet with a similar fear.
Our clinic truly believes in Fear Free practices. Our goal is to limit your pet’s stress and fear and make visits with us as pleasant as possible. There are various ways that we do this, which I would like to share with you.
Treats, Teats, and More Treats!
During your pet’s visit you will notice that we like to offer treats. We have biscuits, cheese, peanut butter – like a candy store for dogs and cats! This is not only because we think your pet is adorable and we want to spoil them, but this is also a main way we like to bond with them.
Imagine if you are at the doctor and you are anxiously waiting, and then the doctor walks in and immediately offers you your favorite treat (for me, that would be some delicious baked goods) and socializes with you. You would likely feel much calmer and connected to them. This is the equivalent of what we do with your pets.
Although we have lots of treats, if you have a dog or cat that is pickier with food, please feel free to bring whatever your pet likes best. This is not uncommon, as I have seen many patients that would eat only one food.
We encourage owners to offer treats as well during visits to help make the entire experience as positive as possible. We joke that visits go best when our patients come hungry, so you may want to consider bringing your pet to see us with an empty stomach so there is plenty of space for treats!
Getting on Their Level
We want our patients to feel comfortable, so we often will sit on the ground with them. We hope that by sitting on their level they feel less intimidated and fearful, and that they see us as their “friend.” I have noticed that when I sit on the ground and spend time in the room before even beginning my exam, my patients generally seem more at ease.
Please do not feel obligated to sit with us, but if you would like to you are totally welcome!
Limit Stress from Other Pets
Many cats never leave the home except to go to the vet. They may be stressed by traveling before they even arrive.
The smells and sounds of dogs can be very scary for them, too, which is why we recently created a separate feline waiting room and exam rooms. We use all separate supplies, have tasty treats and fun toys, and have nice feline-friendly smells. In the months since we have started using this new space, I have noticed that cats overall seem much calmer and happier.
Dogs can be become upset from other pets as well. Some of the sweetest and most affectionate dogs that I have met do not get along well with other dogs. Being around other dogs is stressful for them. I personally have a dog-reactive dog, and while she loves people, other dogs make her highly anxious.
To reduce this anxiety, we have multiple tactics, such as choosing specific exam rooms and trying to limit time in the clinic and exam room, when other pets are a trigger for the patient. We also perform exams outside in an isolated area if needed.
Fear Free for Your Pet
Please let us know if your pet is reactive with other pets, or there are any other behavioral concerns, and we will work with you to formulate a plan for their visits.
I hope you can see how much we at Medical District Veterinary Clinic truly care about our amazing patients! We look forward to continuing to make their time with us as fun and enjoyable and fear free as possible!
Amber Slaughter, DVM
Oh, what a typical December in a year of continual peace and normalcy.
What’s your favorite holiday memory regarding socially distanced Zoom calls with family members you haven’t seen in person for years due to splintered political realities followed by a deadly pandemic all the while keeping your 6-year-old son inside and away from his friends for 9 months and simultaneously being forced to keep an external facade of sanity and light fun in your two-holiday household while your profession, which is universally adored and undervalued at the same time, is more in demand of your time than at any other period in history?
I have so many.
So we know what usually happens here on the holiday. There is a cute blog post about keeping your dogs and cats safe, titled something like “’Tis the Wheezin’: Asthma During the Holidays.” I have written some in the past (HERE), and feel free to read. It generally can be summed up by this wise adage: “Don’t let your dog and cat eat things or get burned and remember that New Year’s Eve in Chicago generally involves people who do not have children and animals lighting off fireworks late at night to make those of us who do angry.” And don’t buy puppies, kittens, or bunnies as gifts. Instead, buy books like this inspirational tale for the animal lover in your life.
But I’m going to write about an unrelated topic: domesticated cats and the outdoors. I can imagine, even before writing this, that many people have strong feelings about this topic. My intention is not to pass judgment on anyone. I want to just give you the veterinarian perspective, and possibly give you an excuse to see photos of my fat indoor cats sitting next to holiday decorations, because that is how we indoor-cat people are generally seen and heard.
Some cats go outside. Cats go outside because some people feel that they have no choice but to let the cat out. Some people feel that it is philosophically cruel to not let the cat out, and some cats get outside by accident. All are acceptable.
I will be upfront and tell you that my two cats, Crocodile the Russian Blue mutt and Penelope the one-eyed tuxedo, do not go outside. They both try at times and have both gotten out before, but they stay inside and tolerate the complete subservience of all surrounding them.
Some of the dangers facing an outdoor cat are pretty obvious, but let’s go through them (you and I, together, like old friends who aren’t being watched):
1. Fighting with Other Cats
Cat bites and scratches are bad, cause severe infections, and can be fatal. All veterinarians have seen cats brought in with bite wounds that have become severely infected and, at worst, can puncture the abdomen, chest, eyeball, or throat and need surgical fix, hospital stays, and even euthanasia. We clean it up and give antibiotics, but it’s always concerning. This also can lead to:
2. Spread of Infectious Disease
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are spread through the exchange of bodily fluids (blood, saliva, etc.). Let’s just assume that the cats outside getting into fights are mostly ones that are homeless, and that homeless cats comprise the largest population of cats carrying these viral diseases. Well, the logic chain/train follows, and you see the danger. We can vaccinate for FeLV, so if your cat does go outside, you can get this done. There is no vaccine for FIV. And no treatment for either disease.
3. Other Infectious Disease
Rabies is a classic viral hit and can be spread through other cats or wild animals (bats, skunks, foxes). Make sure your outside cat is vaccinated for rabies, not only because it is the law but also because, even though it is rare, your sweet rabid cat can kill you and your family. (Still waiting for the Hallmark Channel’s Very Special Rabies Christmas.)
Just for fun let’s add endless respiratory infections (that can pass on to the other cats in your house), feline distemper (get your cat vaccinated for that, too), and parasitic diseases such as fleas (get monthly flea protection), ticks (get monthly tick protection), ear mites, intestinal worms (have monthly dewormers given), and ringworm.
All but one of these diseases can be passed on to you, your children, your grandparents, their friends, their friends’ neighbor, your friends’ neighbors’ son’s cat, etc. You see how this works. If you have an outdoor cat, and you’re afraid to tell your veterinarian (which you shouldn’t be), you can still take all the precautions: vaccines, preventatives, etc.
4. And Even More Infectious Disease
For the lucky, cats bring home presents, such as mice, birds, rats, etc. The rodents bring diseases and other rodents. It’s endless.
5. Cats Get Hit by Cars…
… get hit by bikers, get stuck in garages, get hurt by bad people, get snagged on fences, freeze to death, etc. [Cut to unwatchable montage of more horrible things.] It happens.
My previous cat got stuck in someone’s garage. I could not find her and searched for hours around the neighborhood. I eventually heard a cat crying in a garage and called the police who, hours later, located the owner who wasn’t on premise, to open the door. That could have easily gone another way, and I will write that fan fiction novel later.
“Lost cat” signs litter my current neighborhood, and you know they aren’t lost with a hobo bag on a train. They are all either dead, or (at best) living their lives with someone else. Also please have your outdoor cats microchipped. It’s not painful and may save your cats’ lives. You can also buy GPS trackers for their collars. I am not promoting a specific brand, but they are available anywhere.
Cats are really good at making babies, causing the population of stray cats in the city to blow up. These cats either end up being helped by people/shelters that can barely deal with the cats they have or they are left to fend for themselves on the streets to die, starve, or spread more disease.
So first, get your outdoor cat spayed or neutered. It is absolutely the best thing for them, for their health, and to keep down the population of wild cats in need. I also do not need to explain to you how a wild tom cat will treat a sweet young lady cat taking a stroll down the promenade with her uterus and ovaries. If you want to reduce the chances that your boy cat doesn’t get into a fight, well, then neuter. There are conflicting statistics, but most sources suggest that one female cat and her mate and all the subsequent offspring amounts to 11 million cats in nine years.
Lastly, I fear that some of you feel like the most natural thing for the world is to let your cats outside and let them live the full entirety of their existence. I get this, I really do, but also understand how much destruction to the natural environment cats do. They destroy natural foliage and other wildlife despite their good intentions. There is some very good evidence that the best thing for “nature” is to keep your cats inside, and you can find many other resources on this topic.
There are cats that do better when they go outside. I’ve had clients keep their cats inside and later see them become anxious, yowl, not eat, urinate all over the house, etc. I don’t want your cats to suffer, but if you want to make that transition, there are things we can do. It may not be the case that your cat is anxious because it can’t go outside. In fact, it may be that it has always been anxious, but you never noticed until you kept it inside. Always have us examine your cat before making any judgments. Maybe your formerly outdoor cat is suffering from something else (UTI, pain, etc.).
As always, feel free to discuss with us at any time. This wasn’t meant to be a philosophical treatise on domesticated animals’ rights, though that is generally how I fantasize spending a great deal of my off time.
Try to relax during these times and make sure you don’t feed your dogs chocolate-covered antifreeze-infused garlic balls for the holidays, or give your cats kerosene holiday lamps for Hanukkah.
I will continue to lord over Secret Santas everywhere while I fulfill my long-standing December tradition of making holiday cookies I can’t eat in a house I don’t own.
Be safe, don’t travel, wear masks, and shop locally on-line. And Black Panther is a holiday movie.
— Brett Grossman, DVM
Cats make great pets for city dwellers; most indoor cats are content to live in small spaces, passing the day asleep on a bed or couch, waking for meals and litter box use. They don’t need to be walked outside and they are a great source of love and companionship. Chicago offers many rescue groups and shelters that can help you select and adopt a life-long friend. PAWS and the Anti-Cruelty Society are two such organizations.
Many indoor cats, however, find confined living stressful and act out in ways that are undesirable to their owners. Two of the most common unwelcome behaviors are eliminating out of the litter box and scratching furniture and rugs.
This article outlines some of the ways to make your indoor cat’s existence happy. Because behavior problems can be rooted in medical causes, be sure to contact your veterinarian if you are concerned about your cat.
Think Inside the Box
Excellent litter box hygiene is essential for curtailing inappropriate urination and defecation. Cats are fastidious, so may choose to avoid using an unkempt box. Eliminating out of the box is not a spiteful behavior; it may be, in the cat’s mind, the best alternative. Removing waste daily is recommended.
Make sure you have enough litter boxes for the number of cats in your home. Veterinarians recommend the number of litter boxes equals the number of cats plus one (e.g., two cats demand three boxes).
Lastly, choosing a litter that is acceptable to your pet can be achieved by trial and error. Most cats prefer a low dust, unscented clumping litter.
Cats are natural scratchers; scent-marking glands in their paws announce to the world that a particularly well-upholstered couch or loveseat belongs to them. Their owners, however, may take exception.
There are some interventions that may be helpful to curb this habit. A scratching post, which can be placed either near or distant from a couch, may be an effective alternative. Strategically deposited catnip may lure your cat toward the desired spot. Regular clipping of your cat’s claws may also deter scratching. Additionally, clear tape applied at the arms of a couch is offensive to cats and can turn them off from scratching your furniture.
Outdoor cats climb trees to get away from predators, chase birds and other small prey, and get some alone time. Indoor cats need a similar escape. A homemade or purchased cat tree is a great way to offer your indoor cat the vertical escape she needs. This multi-level structure with comfortable places to sleep and play is one of the remedies for reducing stress and undesirable behavior in a small city dwelling.
Food, shelter, litter boxes, and love can change the life of an unwanted animal. Consider adding a cat to your home. You may be rewarded with unconditional friendship and love.
Dr. Barrie Yallof
I recently came across the most amazing carrier for producing a calm cat. It’s called the Van Ness Calm Carrier. It has a sliding drawer design that allows cats in the carrier to be very easily taken out, avoids the more forceful removal from the carrier, and allows for quicker and safer unloading. I was amazed by this simple and genius idea and surprised that this carrier wasn’t more widely used.
For many cats, the only time they leave their homes and see the carrier is when they are going to the vet. They associate the carrier and the departure with being at the vet, and they begin to feel heightened stress and anxiety even before they arrive. Once we see many of these cats, it can be very difficult to handle them, and just getting them out of the carrier can be a challenge.
As a hospital that utilizes Fear Free® practices on a daily basis, we at Medical District Veterinary Clinic do our best to lessen anxiety and stress for our patients before, during, and after their visits to the vet. While the carrier choice seems simple, this important step can make a huge difference in creating a calm cat.
Below are tips to help lessen anxiety and stress for your cats when they visit with us:
- The best carriers are hard sided carriers that can be easily taken apart. In a carrier in which the top can be easily removed, more stressful and fearful cats can even be examined while they remain in the bottom half of the carrier where they are more comfortable.
- Make the carrier comfortable and enjoyable for your cat. Ideally your cat will enter the carrier on their own, and even spend time there to rest and play. To help your cat see the carrier as a happy and positive place, fill it with treats, toys, and familiar bedding that they enjoy.
- A product called Feliway® emits a synthetic feline pheromone that helps create a calming environment and reduces stress. It comes as a plug-in diffuser, spray, and wipe. Use of these products in the carrier prior to transport can be very beneficial to limit the anticipated stress and anxiety of going to the vet. We use these products all the time and see positive changes in our patients.
- Consider asking your veterinarian for a prescription medication you could administer before your cat’s visit to the clinic to serve as a mild sedative and help reduce stress and anxiety. Common medications used include gabapentin and trazodone.
By following these guidelines, you can make the experience of going to the vet much more enjoyable for feline patients—and for owners and veterinary staff as well.
—Amber Slaughter, DVM