The Cat Tree

  
(Page 10 of 10: Viewing entries 91 to 96)  
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Fitzcairn

Where's the- Ball?! Throw- the ball!!!
 
 
Barked: Fri Feb 4, '11 6:02am PST 
Quoted from the online vet blog PetMD/FullyVetted:

"Cat nutrition 2.0 ... What's new in kitty food?
FEBRUARY 04

By popular demand, here's the promised post on what's new in cat feeding and nutrition. After last week's Waltham Centre visit in rural England (which I'm mining to great effect), I got the download on all that's new in the world of moggy munchies.

Translation: moggy = house cat (in common British parlance).

Cats are a big deal at Waltham. Given that while cats are the number one most popular pet in the U.S., cat owner spending still takes a distant back seat to what dogs enjoy. So it is that most pet food companies don't invest a proportionate amount of research into what cats need, food-wise, relative to dogs' needs. Kudos to Waltham's researchers for that one.

So here's the scoop on what they're working on:

1. Best foods for teeth

The assumption is this: The overwhelming majority of cat owners don't brush their cats' teeth. (Safe bet on that score.) Which is why, whenever possible (and appropriate), foods should help reduce plaque. Foods can be formulated for plaque deterrence. Crunchy ones, especially.

Unfortunately, they've also found that crunchy kibbles are not always best for all cats. Read on ...

2. Wet vs. dry, redux

Here's a new spin on the canned vs. kibbled, carb vs. protein debate that's all the rage in feline circles:

Cats fed identical quantities of identical formulas were more active and weighed less if their food was moistened with water. Both groups of cats were also offered as much water as they wanted to drink.

So let me recap to be sure you got this: Wet (canned food or moistened kibble) food seems to keep kitties more active and (therefore, we assume) leaner. The formula itself doesn't seem to matter. Not in this study, anyhow.

Now, the previous assumption (and perhaps still a valid one) is that canned foods effect weight loss in cats because foods made in this format are capable of being formulated with a higher percentage of protein, and — as the theory goes — more protein means more normal weights because cats aren't overcompensating with increased intake of carb-rich kibble to make up for the protein. Make sense?

So does that mean this latter theory has been debunked? Not necessarily ... just that there's a new, less theoretical rationale to consider: increased hydration leads to increased activity levels and therefore to lower weights.

Why might this be the case? It's been proposed that cats, with their desert ancestry, have come to expect hydration with their meals. Indeed, many wild species rarely drink water; rather, they consume nearly all their fluids via their prey's flesh. Hence, why they might not naturally gravitate towards independent water consumption or why hydration might be more efficiently achieved when accompanied by a meal.

Cool, right?

3. Wet foods and FLUTD

This one I already knew and have previously passed on to diligent Fully Vetted readers: Cats who suffer any urinary tract dysfunction — especially "feline lower urinary tract disease" — are likely to have better outcomes (i.e., fewer and less severe episodes) if they ingest fluids with their meals. Dunno why.

4. Portion control post sterilization

We sterilize house cats. So far we've found no way around this, given the unwanted acting-out kitties are apt to display sans spay and neuter. Unfortunately — and this should come as no surprise to cat owners the world over — we've found that spayed and neutered cats will (gasp!) gain more weight than their intact (or "entire," as the Brits like to say) brethren.

That's why nutritionists have gone the extra mile to study the effects of portion control post sterilization. After much trial and error, it seems the 18-week period post spay and neuter may be crucial for determining whether cats will ultimately gain lifelong-dogging amounts of weight relative to their entire counterparts.

That's the scoop. What say you, catsy folk?

Dr. Patty Khuly"
Fitzcairn

Where's the- Ball?! Throw- the ball!!!
 
 
Barked: Mon Jun 6, '11 6:04pm PST 
thinkingSomething to think about if it ever happens to you...

From the online vet newsletter PetMD/FullyVetted:
Quote
"Insulin? I’d Rather Euthanize My Cat Than Go There (and Other Stressful Diabetic Cat Encounters)
June 06, 2011

I just don’t get it. Here I’ve got the proverbial crazy cat lady seated before me. I mean, she’s long ago confessed to keeping ten cats in her tiny apartment. And don’t get me wrong — I adore her for it. Problem is, she currently says she’ll not be treating her just-diagnosed diabetic cat with insulin because (a) she has too many others to worry about, and (b) she doesn’t want to "put her through it."

Now, in case you’ve not heard my spiel on this before, lean into your seats and grab hold of your desk now: Who exactly are we putting through what? Because if I was nine-out-of-ten cats, I’d be loving life as a diabetic cat. That is, as long as my owner cared enough to coddle me through the process.

And since a full fifty percent recover fully enough not to require insulin within four short months post-diagnosis, I’d say not wanting to "put her through it" would rank high among the crappiest reasons to let any animal die an uncomfortable death in the face of an eminently treatable disease.

But then, as most of us who labor long enough in veterinary medicine know, a large percentage of don’t-want-to-put-her-through-it cases are really just an excuse for economic euthanasia. Or more depressingly, don’t-want-to-put-her-through-it is the code for death offered by the I-just-can’t-deal-with-this-right-now mentality I encounter so often among my emotionally overwhelmed client base. This latter group means well. But they just. can’t. deal.

And somehow, diabetic cats rank really, really high among the cases that fall into this emotionally trying category. Somehow, it seems people want to draw the line at diabetes. But then, that’s probably only because diabetes in cats almost inevitably means insulin. Injectable insulin. Twice a day insulin.

There’s no doubt about it: Managing a diabetic cat is not easy. And make no mistake, I’d rather have clients tell me how it is up front so that we can euthanize a sick cat before he has a chance to suffer rather than have them take him home to die a drawn-out death of neglect. But that doesn’t mean that veterinarians shouldn’t try to evangelize on the merits of diabetic cat management.

Frustrating though it inevitably is to hear a client wax poetic on the many ways in which s/he will decidedly NOT engage in the insulin-giving, prescription diet-feeding, careful-watching type of diabetes management modern veterinary medicine recommends, knowing that I succeed in changing hearts and minds on this issue in more than fifty percent of my stubborn cases is more than enough to keep me going.

Sure, their mystifying excuses never fail to get me down. But if I can just hang in there long enough to get them to agree to move onto the next step — stone soup-style — I find that most pet owners will follow me, step after perilous step, as we move into the not-so-stressful-as-I-thought-it-would-be territory of diabetic cat management.

My profession is about healing animals — mostly. But in a large percentage of cases I’m really just Tom Sawyering others into doing the healing for me. And nowhere is this more obvious in my version of veterinary medicine than when it comes to treating the diabetic cat. Sure, I can tell them exactly what to do, but unless I can persuade pet owners into believing that both they and their cats will be happier in the end … it’s all over.

Luckily, the truth about insulin is this: Most cats mind it far less than getting a pill or liquid medication foisted upon them twice a day. What’s more, most cases of feline diabetes are incredibly rewarding adventures in what it takes to really love animals. Now, if only I could convince ALL my clients…

Dr. Patty Khuly"
Tessa

You may- approach.
 
 
Barked: Wed Jul 13, '11 8:46am PST 
From the online vet newsletter PetMD/FullyVetted:

"Why Does She Keep Meowing at Me?
The Anatomy of a Meow
May 27, 2011

Meowing, growling, yowling, screeching, purring, hissing, spitting … cats are capable of engaging in a surprising array of vocal maneuvers. It’s all in the service of communication, of course, but that doesn’t mean we always have to like it.

Take my cats, for instance. I’m always trying to feed them stealthily, making nary a peep as I approach their bowls. Unfortunately, they’re constitutionally incapable of keeping quiet as they’re being fed.

Once they see me exit the house at the correct time of day, they start Peep-peeping. Then as the food is being served, they’ll sometimes work up to a full vocal frenzy with their, Grawwwwls, Creeeeks, Meooowls and Me-oooooows, thereby alerting Señora T-Rex, our formidable queen hen, that cat food has been served. Señora T-Rex then comes crashing through the underbrush, forcing all of us into a withering retreat.

I mean, they know she’ll show if they’re loud. So why all the opera when it’s time for clandestine dinnertime?

Beats me. But it’s better than what many of my clients have to endure. The incessant peri-mealtime vocalization is intense enough to induce obesity — in the cats, I mean. Then there’s the wake-up call. Or the hissing-spitting-growling-yowling in the yard.

Dogs can be yappy, for sure, but cats can be surprisingly LOUD. And persuasive. A screaming cat at the back of a cage? It’s time for a rabies pole and a dart gun (at least a towel and a syringe full of Kitty Magic. Sorry, but that cat is promising to hurt me.

Back to the meowing, growling, yowling, screeching, purring, hissing and spitting…

While most of these sounds play their obvious roles in cat communication, the pedestrian meow can be the most confounding. Because it’s the most common of feline sounds in a cat-human context, the meow can be an incredibly nuanced, multipurpose communication tool. What does she mean by that?

Mostly, experts agree: Cats meow most often because they want something. But most cats also have meows that mean different things at different times, expressing different wants and needs they might have. Play time vs. patio time vs. feeding time, for example.

The interesting thing about meows is that adult cats don’t often meow at one another. Behaviorists have postulated that momma cats are used to having their kittens meow when they need things and therefore they associate meowing with asking for stuff. And since humans are so good at giving, in the context of domestication, why not ask?

But when the asking gets continuous, or turns into an obsessive, repetitive behavior (think of the now-cognitively challenged geriatric kitty pacing and meowing all night long), we start to get concerned. Is there something missing from her diet? Am I doing something wrong as a cat owner? Is her nighttime vocalization part of the normal after hours routine for our crepuscular cats? Or is it a symptom of anxiety or neurologic deterioration?

Whatever the case, it’s time to truck off to the vet’s to make sure nothing sickly is amiss. And if not, perhaps your veterinarian has some significant advice to offer. But for those who are serious about changing a cat’s behavior through behavior modification, a certified behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist should be strongly considered.

How about your cats? Do you suffer the agony of the vocal cat? Or do those delicious peeps just keep you wondering why anyone could ever think anything other than happy thoughts at the sound of a kitty’s sotto voce?

Dr. Patty Khuly"

Fitzcairn

Where's the- Ball?! Throw- the ball!!!
 
 
Barked: Sat Mar 17, '12 8:12am PST 
Here's something for you guy cats!

Quoted from the online vet newsletter PetMD/FullyVetted:

"The Blocked Cat

Male or female, purebred or domestic shorthair, any cat can develop a urinary condition like Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), stones, or infection. But when the cat in question is a neutered male, BEWARE! They are at the highest risk for developing a much dreaded veterinary emergency: urinary obstructio n.

Neutered male cats have incredibly narrow urethras (the tube that drains the bladder to the outside world through the penis). In fact, a neutered male’s urethra is so narrow that involuntary muscular contractions called urethral spasms can be enough to cause an obstruction. A small stone or a plug made of proteinaceous material and/or crystals can easily become lodged inside the urethra and completely block the outflow of urine.

When a cat is "blocked," he will usually posture to urinate, but nothing — or just the tiniest dribble — will come out. As the condition progresses, he becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Eventually the pain is excruciating, and the bladder may even rupture due to the buildup of pressure. Also, the chemicals that should be exiting his body through urination quickly begin to accumulate in the blood stream, wreaking havoc on the body. Without rapid intervention, death will follow from this self-poisoning.

Treating a blocked cat involves emptying his bladder, relieving the urethral blockage, and dealing with the biochemical abnormalities that have developed. This is typically done by placing a catheter through the urethra and leaving it in place until the bladder has had a chance to remain empty and recover.

A recent study has shown that in some cases, draining the urine from the bladder via needle and syringe (often repeatedly) can also work. Intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy, pain relief, medications that promote normal function of the urinary tract, and providing a quiet, stress-free environment are necessary as well. If a cat never regains the ability to urinate normally, surgery can be performed to create a hole in the urethra above the blockage, through which urine can be expelled.

Unfortunately, cats that have experienced a urethral obstruction are at higher than average risk for developing the problem again. If a definitive cause for the blockage has been found, prevention strategies should be concentrated there. For example, a cat with struvite stones can be fed a diet that is known to dissolve this material and prevent the development of these stones in the future.

When no specific cause has been diagnosed, veterinarians differ in what they recommend. Some prescribe diets like those mentioned above because they generally promote a healthy urine pH and bladder environment. Others focus on water consumption, with the purpose being to dilute the urine enough to discourage crystals or other materials from clumping together. Owners can increase water consumption in their cats by feeding canned food, using a kitty "fountain," and/or letting a cat’s favorite faucet drip. Research has shown that decreasing stress in the home also plays an important role in prevention.

What constitutes kitty stress, you might ask? In my opinion, boredom and dirty litter boxes are the top two stressors for indoor-only cats.

So, playing with your cat, providing him with lots of toys — and perhaps some catnip — placing a comfy perch in front of the window, turning on some music and keeping the litter boxes clean might just help prevent another panicked rush to the veterinary hospital.

Dr. Jennifer Coates"
Fitzcairn

Where's the- Ball?! Throw- the ball!!!
 
 
Barked: Sun May 27, '12 4:51am PST 
frownI guess this could happen when a cat's nine lives start to run out:

Quoted from the online vet newsletter PetMD/FullyVetted:

"Cognitive Dysfunction in Cats
April 10, 2012

I’ve written previously about cognitive dysfunction in dogs, and while we don’t see cats suffering from this age-associated condition to the same degree, it is still common and severe enough to be worthy of our attention. Studies have shown that 28 percent of cats between the ages of 11 and 15 and 50 percent of cats over the age of 15 show some signs of cognitive dysfunction.

The exact causes of declining mental function in older cats cannot always be identified. An increase in the breakdown rate of neurotransmitters and the build-up of damaging free radicals in the brain may be to blame in some cases. Whatever the cause, there are identifiable physical and physiological differences between the brains of healthy cats with those with cognitive dysfunction that go beyond the normal changes associated with aging.

Typical symptoms of cognitive decline in cats include:

Changes in behavior and activity levels
Problems with litter box use
Restlessness and wandering
Disorientation
Vocalization
Memory loss
Changes in the way a cat relates with people or other pets
Altered sleep patterns

The first thing to do if you suspect that your older cat is developing cognitive dysfunction is to get him or her in to your veterinarian for a work up. Other diseases can have symptoms that mimic cognitive decline. Your veterinarian will need to rule out conditions like arthritis, liver disease, neurologic problems (e.g., a brain tumor), hormonal disorders, kidney failure, and high blood pressure before reaching a definitive diagnosis. We are doing elderly cats a disservice if we simply assume that their behavioral changes are due to cognitive dysfunction without addressing other potential causes as well.

Yes, there are things that can be done to help cats struggling with impaired cognition. Medications and supplements like selegeline, propentofylline, antioxidants, sertraline, lorazepam, melatonin, L-theanine, alpha-casozepine, and pheromones have been studied more in dogs but do appear to be safe for use in cats. Effectiveness varies greatly depending on the patient. Finding the right combination for each individual is more of an art than a science at this point, I’m afraid.

Enrichment, mental stimulation, and stress relief can also go a long way towards improving or maintaining a cat’s mental acuity. Activities such as leash walking, time spent outside in a safe enclosure or on a perch in front of a window, and playing with toys help keep senior pets sharp. Old cats can learn new tricks, and doing so helps to keep their minds and bodies strong.

Dr. Jennifer Coates"
Fitzcairn

Where's the- Ball?! Throw- the ball!!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Feb 12, '13 3:05am PST 
kittykittykitty

From the online vet blog PetMD/ FullyVetted

Quote:
"Overcoming Cat Carrier Drama

At the dog park a few days ago, a pet owner was telling me about how much her cat hates to go to the vet’s office (she didn’t know what I do for a living). As is typical, the problems start as soon as the cat catches site of the carrier. Zip — the cat runs as fast as she can to the most impenetrable recess of the house, and the battle to get her out begins. No wonder the cat is such a terror at the clinic; she’s seriously stressed out before she even gets there.

I talked to the owner about the option of using a mobile veterinarian, but she really likes her current vet, who doesn’t make house calls. Next, I offered some advice on how to get her cat to view the carrier as a positive rather than negative part of her life. Carrier-related stress is a common problem for cats and their owners, so I thought I’d share with you what I told her.

First, let’s look at the scenario from the cat’s point of view. Does anything good ever follow being shoved into a carrier? Unlike dogs that leave the house with their owners for pleasurable outings like walks, cats are almost invariably being taken somewhere a whole lot less fun than home. One such experience is enough to color a cat’s view of the carrier, unless you make a concerted effort to change her mind.

If you can, leave the carrier out at all times in a readily accessible part of your home (this might be an argument for purchasing an attractive rather than purely utilitarian one). The carrier will then smell like home, rather than the attic, crawl space, or garage, where it is probably currently stored. Your cat will also have the opportunity to rub and leave her scent on it, which will make it more appealing to her in the future. Sprays that contain synthetic feline facial hormones can also be helpful in this regard.

Try to associate the carrier with good things. For example, feed her either a portion of her regular diet or especially yummy treats in it. Even go so far as closing the carrier’s door when she’s inside and then reopening it a few minutes later. In this way, you can use the very same chain of events to secure your cat in her carrier when a trip is imminent. However, it is a good idea to vary any cues that your cat might pick up on during your "training sessions." Cats are smart enough to think, "Hmmm, I always get my tuna in the evening … why is it being delivered this morning, and why does that person have her coat on … ? I’m outta here!"

Once you return home from any excursion you take with your cat, put the carrier back in its normal location and continue with your routine as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened. It may take some time for your cat to willingly return to the "scene of the crime," but if the good times consistently outnumber the bad, she should soon come to view the carrier as a (relatively) benign presence in her life.

Dr. Jennifer Coates"
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