Thursday, April 6, 2017

Why I Rotate Food Brands

Most pet food manufacturers  buy   ingredients from inexpensive overseas suppliers.  And
almost EVERY CAT FOOD manufacturer has had at least ONE recall in the last 5 years.  That is a scary fact of the pet food industry.  The reasons for recalling food varies from lack of essential vitamins, mineral levels at 10 times the safety level, food laced with  toxic ingredients, salmonella-contaminated meat.  Recently,  Evanger  recalled  pet food that contained phenobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals. Blue Buffalo canned food was recalled for containing pieces of metal!

Monitor all pet food recalls here:Current Pet Food Recalls

How can we protect our pets?  What can we feed that is safe?  Safety lies in ROTATION of brands.  Chose at least 3-5+ reputable pet food companies (that are not owned by the same parent company) and rotate foods.  Specifically, feed a different canned food every day.  Rotate from one SMALL bag of dry food to another BRAND.  Consider rotating in a home made diet, or balanced raw diet.   Just rotating flavors from the same company is not enough.  Most of the recalls have included a large percentage of foods from the same company.  For example,  Wellness cat food recall of 2012 included ALL their canned  cat food (for  lacking essential B vitamins) except their 2 flavors of Wellness Core.
What does rotation do?  It reduces the likelihood that you will be feeding an unsafe food over an extended period of time. Remember recalled food has been on pet store shelves for months.   The key is ROTATION and VARIETY.

Some people are concerned about changing foods daily, as it might upset their cat's system.   If your cat has a sensitive gut, consider a daily PROBIOTIC added into the food.  A probiotic allows the gut to remain healthy during food changes.  Food changes can be done gradually over a 2 week period, allowing the G.I. tract to better accustom to the new food, in the case of a sensitive stomach.

As always, discuss any dietary concerns with your veterinarian.  I recommend bringing the bag/or cans of food that your currently feed, with you to your next wellness exam.  That way, your pets nutrition can be evaluated during this appointment!

If you enjoy my blog, please consider joining my email list!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Friday, March 10, 2017

Good Cat Hunting

Cats are amazing and solitary hunters.  They stalk.  They stare, motionless.  They wait, poised.  They pounce.  They kill.  They savor.  Outdoor cats spend up to 90% of their waking hours hunting.  This is not only mentally stimulating for kitty, but healthy physical activity.

So what about our indoor cats?  We feed them from a bowl, sometimes as lib. Feeding from a bowl may be responsible for the obesity epidemic we are seeing in our cats- 60% of indoor cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. And eating from a bowl is not too mentally stimulating.

We have taken away their physical need to hunt....but is the drive still there?  Should we consider the psychological and healthy benefits to feeding "for the hunt"?

 Dr. Elizabeth Bales has developed a No Bowl Feeding System for cats.  Food is hidden in the NoBowl device, similar to a treat ball, but mouse shaped, with a soft exterior and a tail.  Once a cat is used to retrieving food/treats from the MOUSE, then the dry kibble can be divided into 5 MICE and hidden throughout the house.  End result:  No Bowl.

In multiple cat households, this system might work really well.  Most cats are trained to eat next to each other.  But cats are solitary hunters.  Using 5 MICE per cat would allow the cats to search for their meal alone, increasing mental and physical stimulation, and perhaps reducing stress.

The No Bowl system is not the only way to feed for the hunt.  Just Google "pictures of interactive feeders for cats" and you will get many product ideas.  Something as simple as a treat ball filled with part of the daily meal would be a great place to start.  For some cats, there may be a bit of a learning curve before you achieve success! 
More information can be found here: No Bowl information

Please share this blog with your cat-loving friends and family.
Happy Hunting!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Wishes and Warnings

With the holidays quickly approaching,  it is easy to become distracted by  long to-do lists. Be sure that YOUR CAT  is included in your holiday planning.
Enjoy the holiday delicacies, but be very aware that most table food is not appropriate for your cat. Reactions from unusual and inappropriate foods can range from mild gastrointestinal upset  to severe toxicity. Beware of chocolate, onions, fatty meat scraps, bones and the fragrant  poultry carcass and meat wrappings/strings.  A few small pieces of cooked unseasoned meat as a topping to their regular meal should not be a problem for most cats, after all, it is a celebration!
Deck the halls. Safely! Secure your Christmas tree to prevent tipping, especially if your feline is prone to climbing or you have a kitten. Avoid any water additives made to prolong the life of your tree. Many of these can be harmful to your cat if they chose to sample ‘the new water bowl’. Avoid fragile ornaments or lights. Tinsel is especially dangerous to cats as many find the texture irresistible for chewing that will lead to an intestinal blockage if ingested. Shiny bows and sparkling ribbons can easily become cat toys, and be ingested.   Many common holiday plants (holly, mistletoe, lilies, and poinsettia) are dangerous if eaten.  
Visitors can be stressful; especially for your cats. Provide a safe cat sanctuary as a retreat if things become boisterous. Cats may feel uncertain about traveling through high traffic  areas to get to their food and water or litter box. Be conscious of open doors. As new guests arrive, safeguard against the opportunity for an unplanned outside cat adventure. FELIWAY is your cats best friend around the holidays.  Use it daily to help your cats thru the chaos of holiday parties, company, visitors.
Traveling with your cat? Be sure to desensitize your cat with frequent, short trips before jumping into the car for a trip over the river and through the woods. Ask your veterinarian for treats or supplements that may lower their anxiety levels; many of which should be started days or weeks before leaving. FELIWAY is a great product for use in the car and carrier. Be prepared to make frequent stops for the comfort of your cat and schedule accordingly. Create a pet packing list! Include bowls, litter, medications, comfort items, and of course their favorite food. COMPOSURE  is a cat treat that is formulated to help your cat handle stressful situations.  NUTRICALM is a liquid supplement that is a great addition to a cat's canned food in times of change.
If your cat is on prescription medication or a veterinary prescription food, be sure to stock up before the holidays.    Know your veterinarian’s holiday schedule. If an emergency happens and your cat needs veterinary assistance, do you know where to go and who to call if your regular veterinarian is closed for the holidays? It is always good to have an emergency number handy in case it’s needed,.  This is true especially  during holidays when normal business hours may be unpredictable.

The holidays should be a special time for both you and your cats.  Preventing the unexpected is the key. Be safe.  From our cats to yours, have a purrrrfect  Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Does Your Cat Have A Drinking Problem?

Everyone knows that water is a required component of survival for any animal. But for cats, water is especially important for maintaining kidney function, and overall health. Dehydration is a common problem, especially in older cats, that often sends owners and cats to the veterinary clinic.

 In the wild, a feral, hunting cat would receive a very significant portion of their water requirements from the prey they would eat. Did you know that a mouse is 80% water? As you can imagine, a cat who is only offered a dry kibble diet is receiving almost NO water in their diet!  Cats that eat dry food will need to drink 10 times more water than those who eat canned or raw food.
So, what can you do to increase your cat's water intake?

Offer canned food. All cats benefit from a high protein diet. Canned foods are higher in protein and water content. While a well balanced dry, kibble diet will supply your cat all its nutritional needs, at least of portion of your cats diet should be canned food. Dry kibble is often less than 10% moisture whereas an average canned food is usually 75% or above
Add water to your cat’s food. Water can be added to canned food to make gravy for cat’s to lick and enjoy. Even for cats that refuse canned food, a small amount of water added to dry kibble will often be tolerated.  And some cats LOVE their canned food soupy!

Promote drinking by offering multiple water sources throughout your house. Be sure that water is changed at least daily and bowls are cleaned frequently.  Water bowls should be kept a distance away from the litter box, as most cats prefer not to eat and drink in close proximity to their ‘restroom’ area.
Some cats prefer moving water and may benefit from being allowed to drink directly from the faucet or a running pet fountain.  If you have a pet fountain, be sure to scrub it out regularly.

Offer bottled water, if your city water has an off taste.  Cats, like people, will drink more if the water tastes good.

Make drinking fun!  Cats love to play with water!   Try dropping an ice cube in the water bowl. Your cat may enjoy batting the cube around and in the process, begin repeatedly licking her wet paw. You can also freeze a little low-sodium chicken broth in plastic ice cube trays and then periodically drop one into the bowl. If you do this, make sure you also have an additional bowl available with just plain water so your cat will have a choice.  Some cats prefer very cold water to drink.  And some cats LOVE to drink from a dripping faucet.

Below are listed some signs of dehydration.  Watch for these especially if you have a senior cat:

Lethargy, General signs of ‘doing poorly’
Loss of appetite
Lack of energy and/or hiding and being antisocial
Dry, unhealthy appearance to the skin and/or fur
Less elastic skin; prolonged skin tent
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Dark, concentrated and/or strong smelling urine
Constipation, straining to defecate, dry and hard stools

An examination at Fox Valley Cat Clinic is the best way to determine if you cat is dehydrated. Also contact your veterinarian if you notice a change in your cat’s water consumption. A notable increase in drinking with no associated food change can indicate kidney, blood sugar, or other health problems.

Can your cat drink too much water daily?  NOPE!  The more the better!

Happy Drinking!
Dr. Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fill The Truck for Pet's Sake Wisconsin to Louisiana!

 The animal shelters in Louisiana are overrun with lost or homeless cats and dogs, due to the recent
severe flooding disaster.  Below is a call for help with a list of desperately needed supplies.  The Fox Valley Cat Clinic is a drop off sight for donations  until September 29th, that will then be  transported down to LA in early October.   Any donations would be greatly appreciated!   Below is the specifics:

We (Fill the Truck for Pet's Sake)  are filling a truck with supplies

for the St. Tammany Humane Society

in Covington, LA. They are the

distribution center for all of the

shelters, animal controls and rescues

for the area that has been hit

by the massive flooding. We will be

delivering them the 2nd week in

Scoopable Cat litter

Puppy/Kitten hard food

Puppy/Kitten soft food

Dog/cat hard food

Dog/cat soft food

Cleaning supplies

Immiticide (HW treatment)

Treats (not home-made)

Subway gift cards

Paper towel

Liquid Laundry Detergent


Dish Soap

Dog/cat toys

Grooming supplies

Flea/Tick Preventative

Cash (will be used to

purchase supplies)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Defying Murphy's Law

Murphy's law states that if you have more than one cat (and don't we all?) then one cat will be thin and one cat will be fat.  But, how should you deal with this dilemma at feeding time?   The myth that one food is appropriate for both of these cats as in "multicat" food defies logic.  If it were that simple,  50% of my patients would NOT be overweight!   Here are some innovative ideas that might help you to manage the trend toward feline obesity.

Convert your feeding style from a shared free choice food bowl to feeding 2 or 3 times a day in MEALS.  Once the meal is done, the food goes away.    This discourages the cat that likes to overeat when there is nothing else to do.  It also allows you to feed the cats in separate rooms with a door between the fat cat and the skinny cat.  With this plan, you can feed each cat an appropriate food for their size.  This  will also allow skinny cat to eat at leisure and fat cat to cool his heels after the meal is gone. 

If you are concerned that skinny cat needs food out all the time to graze on, then try placing skinny cats food in an elevated location -like the top of the refrigerator- where fat cat can not physically access. 

Or, you can "build" a feeding box that has a skinny cat silhouette as a door, so fat cat can not enter.  This allows skinny cat to go in and out of the feeding box to graze whenever he wants.
 DIY Cat Feeding Box

It is sometimes hard to motivate a fat cat  to exercise.  Try playing "catch the kibble" at mealtime.  Toss one piece of food (from the meal portion) at a time down a hallway or stairway.  This is a fun game for fat cat as well as skinny cat, and will burn calories too.

There are some really COOL interactive feeding toys available for purchase.  This will challenge your cat, give them more of a hunting experience, and slow their eating down -all of which are beneficial  to both skinny cat and fat cat.

Or, be creative, and make your own!

Select a low-carbohydrate food for weight loss, as a high protein food will increase energy expenditure.  (i.e.-carbs make cats sleepy, protein makes them more energetic).  See my previous blog on the importance of feeding high protein foods to cats:  Be Savy about your Cats Nutrition

If you are considering a weight loss program for your fat cat -please consult your veterinarian.  Fat cats are at risk for a liver condition called Hepatic Lipidosis, if they do not eat a certain number of calories per day.  The rule of thumb is a cat should never lose more than 1/2 lb per month, while dieting.  More weight loss would increase the risk of Hepatic Lipidosis in your cat.  How do you measure?   A scale and a written  record of bi weekly weight checks are very important.  Sharing this information with your cats veterinarian with allow them to be a partner in your cats weight loss program. 

As always, thanks for sharing this information with your cat loving friends.  Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Potential DANGER in NEW cat litter!

 As many of  you already know, I am not a fan of scented cat litter.  Why?  Because it is offensive to
the cat.  The feline sense of smell is 14x stronger than that of a human.  Imagine that!  Now imagine how strong ANY smell in the litter box must be for our cat friends. 
So, I could hardly believe it when I saw that Tidy Cat was adding Febreze to their product line to hide odors (or as an incentive to boost sales).     Febreze, a Proctor and Gamble product, has been sold in the US since 1998.  It can be found in candles, diffusers, mist form as well as aerosol spray -and now our cat litter!

 Veterinary toxicology experts working for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center consider Febreze fabric freshener products to be non-toxic to pets if used per instructions on the label. But this information was published BEFORE the Febreze/Cat Litter product was introduced.  I am concerned that unsuspecting cat owners will now be subjecting their cats to Febreze.  And this product seems to adhere to the cats coat, which could mean bad news for the cat.

 And my experience has shown me that just because a product is NOT TOXIC to  pets, does not mean it is a product that I recommend to USE around  pets.  Any scented product could cause bronchitis in your cat.  But, if you spray Febreze on your couch, your cat has a choice of avoiding the couch.  HOWEVER, if Febreze is in the cat box, you area leaving your cat with NO choice.

Two weeks ago  I saw a patient named Punkin, a little orange girl that is very sweet.  Punkin  suddenly developed a red, inflamed, itchy face and flaming red ear, and the owner was very concerned.    Poor Punkin was very uncomfortable, as you can imagine.  But what I found surprising was how the cat smelled!   Febrezey!!  I asked Punkin's owner to smell her cat.  She agreed, but she told me she does not use Febreze in her house.  Hmm....  But, she did try a new cat litter recently. Hmmm.... Doing some detective work at home, she realized her Tidy Cat was now laced with Febreze.  The smell from the cat litter was so strong, it was sticking to the cats coat.  And Punkin was breathing this in 24/7.  And developing allergic facial itchiness and discomfort.  Within 24 hours of bathing Punkin and removing the offensive Tidy Cat, Punkin was back to normal.

One week later, I examined a senior cat named Elizabeth who was having respiratory symptoms -wheezing, sneezing and coughing.  She had lost her appetite and was mildly dehydrated.  AND she smelled like Febreze! You guessed it,  Elizabeth's owner just bought a new brand of cat litter.  She did not realize that it contained Febreze.   Because Elizabeth was dehydrated, she required medical care to get back on her feet, but happily she is back to normal (and enjoying her new UNSCENTED cat box).

So, watch for this potential danger when you are purchasing cat litter.  In my opinion, unscented cat litter is the only choice for cat litter.  Use regular baking soda at the bottom of the pan if you need odor control.  Scooping daily is the BEST and CHEAPEST odor control.  Cat boxes do not smell if they are clean.  Period. 

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic LLC

Thursday, March 3, 2016

What does coat color indicate about your cats personality?

Below are two studies that relate cat coat color to personality.  I found their results very interesting and I hope you do too! 

Did you ever wonder what was behind the stereotype of black cats being unlucky?  Or if there was a real reason why black cats might be adopted less from shelters than other cats? A recent study by researchers at California State University and the New College of Florida explored where these biases originate by using an Internet-based study of about 200 individuals. The survey used a 7-point scale to assign 10 terms (active, aloof, bold, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant, and trainable) to five different colors of cats (orange, tri-color, white, black, and bi-color). Significant differences were found in that people tended to assign “friendliness” to orange cats, “intolerance” to tri-colored cats, and “aloofness” to white and tri-colored cats. “Stubbornness” was not assigned in any color of cats.

White cats were considered less bold and active and more shy and calm than other colors. Orange cats were also considered more trainable than white cats. There was a glimmer of hope from the survey in that respondents placed more importance on personality than color when they selected a cat companion, though some evidence shows they believe the two qualities are linked. The study’s information will be beneficial for shelters and those in cat rescue to help promote adoption of different color cats, how to educate potential adopters, and how to avoid relinquishment of some cats due to coat color bias.

Delgado MM, Munera JD and Reevy GM. Human perceptions of coat color as an indicator of domestic cat personality. Anthrozoos. 2012; 25: 427-40.

Connections to physical conditions are known to exist for various coat colors of animals. Some examples include white coat color in dogs and cats with congenital deafness, and  an association between coat color and aggressive behavior in a number of species including silver foxes and mink. orange cat on cabinetCoat-color pattern genes in the cat fall into four categories that dictate the amount of white (“spotting”); the intensity of pigment (“dilution”); the orange and agouti pelage (“pigment-type switching”); and the patterns of ticked, tabby, and spotted (“pattern”). Behaviors have also been linked to heritability.
This study used an Internet-based survey to collect information on coat color, affiliative behaviors toward cats/humans, agonistic behaviors toward cats/humans, other “problem” behaviors, and cat and guardian demographic data. A total of 1,432 cat guardians completed the online survey; after exclusions based on study protocol, data analysis included 1,274 completed surveys. Guardians reported sex-linkedorange female (tortoiseshells, calicos, and “torbies”), black-and-white, and gray-and-white cats to be more frequently aggressive toward humans in 3 settings: during everyday interactions, during handling, and during veterinary visits.

Despite the statistical significance, the median scores in all three categories of aggression suggest that the differences between sex-linked females, black-and-whites, or gray-and-whites and the other colors are relatively small and could potentially be explained by guardian differences in interpretation of the scoring criteria. It may also be due to the relatively low levels of aggression in cats overall, as evidenced by the low median scores, so that any difference, however small, comes out as significant. This study suggests that coat colors may be associated with aggressive behaviors in the cat but that the differences are relatively minor.

Stelow EA, Bain MJ, Kass PH. The relationship between coat color and aggressive behaviors in the domestic cat. J Appl Anim Welf Sci.2016 Jan-Mar;19(1):1-15.

Both of these study summaries were taken from Winn Feline Foundation.  More interesting feline studies can be found at this link:

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic