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 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What You Should Know About Vaccine Titers-really!

Lets talk VACCINES.  Yes, they do provide important protection against potential serious disease.  And they are a very important part of your cats health care.  BUT ask yourself some additional questions.   How safe are vaccines in MY cat ?  How long does the protection, provided by the vaccination, last in MY cat?  Does MY cat need vaccines every year?

You may be surprised to know that the answers to these questions varies from patient to patient, based on individual health, age, history of previous vaccinations or exposure to  disease (even as a kitten) , outdoor exposure, and the health of other pets in the household.  This is one of the reasons we take a thorough patient  history as it helps me to decide which vaccines I should recommend and how often they should be administered to an individual patient. 

Today I don't want to talk about the importance of vaccinating your cat -I will save that discussion for another day.  Today I want to talk about something new.  VACCINE TITERS.  Recent research may suggest that immunity from vaccinations IN SOME PETS may last longer than the usual one to three years.    If this is the case, then a specific vaccination  could be given less often and still be protective.    But as a veterinarian how do I know what to recommend?   The answer lies with a new technology:  VACCINE TITERS. 

 Vaccines stimulate and have direct affect on the body's immune system.  Vaccination can result, in some cases, in adverse reactions, and in rare cases these can be life-threatening.  .  The most common side effect from vaccines is  localized swelling and pain at the injection site, but a reaction can also include fever, skin rash, loss of appetite, and rarely anaphylactic shock.  Vaccine related cancer, called vaccine sarcoma, is also a rare but possible side effect.   Bottom line:   giving vaccines when indicated by vaccine titers makes the most sense and may reduce the risk of vaccine reactions.
Cats with a history of vaccine reactions would greatly benefit from the new technology: VACCINE TITERS.  Titers  act as a guide in making an informed decision about how often vaccines would be necessary in this type of patient. 
A cat with a chronic disease, for example renal disease,  may not  be healthy enough to receive annual vaccinations.  A protective  VACCINE TITRE , however, would be evidence that this patient has protective immunity against these diseases, and vaccination would  not be necessary. 

VACCINE TITER testing involves collection of a blood sample sent to Kansas State University.  The results show either PROTECTIVE immunity or a NON PROTECTIVE result, allowing  us to answer the question, does MY cat need a vaccination this year.  A vaccine titer test can be done at the same time as annual blood testing.  Let us know if a VACCINE TITRE test is something you may be interested in for your cat at your next appointment.

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, November 5, 2015

8 questions you need to ask before buying cat food

Besides price, what should you be looking for in a cat food?    Pet food companies spend BILLIONS of $$$ on marketing and advertising.  So no matter what you hear on TV about trust and nutrition,  the bottom line is that pet food companies are in business to make money.  Period.  As an informed consumer, I want you  to look past the glossy pictures of fresh salmon and feel good words like ALL NATURAL and GRAIN FREE.  I recommend getting into the habit of reading the back of the bag (or can label) before making you best choice.

 Do you know what parent company makes your choice of cat food?  Did you know that  Iams Cat Food Co. is owned by Procter and Gamble?    Do you know what mega company owns Science Diet?  (Colgate- Palmolive).  It is important to know WHO is making the food you are feeding, because in the end, you are trusting that this company is offering you a safe and healthy choice for your cat.    Iams and Science Diet have been in business for decades, but when they were bought out by billion- dollar corporations, the quality of their products declined.  Makes you think, doesn't it...

 What are the major ingredients in the food you are feeding?  The front of the food bag may state "using only farm-raised chicken", but the primary ingredients may be (and often are) something completely different.   The ingredient list on the bag (or can) is required to be listed by weight.  Ideally I want you to chose a food that has a recognizable meat source like chicken  listed as the first 2 or 3 ingredients. It's helpful to know what you cat's preferences are before trying a new brand.  Most cats have a real preference for one specific meat source.  Do you know what your cat loves???

How much protein should your cat's food contain?  You are feeding a carnivore, so only pay for meat-based foods.   You will find the protein % listed under the  "GUARANTEED ANALYSIS."  Some dry products on the market are as low as 28% protein. In my opinion, this is an unsafe level of protein for health.   My hope is that you are feeding a dry product with AT LEAST 40% protein or higher.   If you add the protein% and the fat % together and subtract from 100, you will approximate the carbohydrate % in the dry food.  Again, carbs are not listed on the label, because I would suspect that the company does not want us to know, but keeping the carbohydrate % low is in the best health of your feline family.

What about canned foods?  Protein % in canned foods will be based on how much water is in the can, so in general I want you to chose a canned food with a protein level of 10% or greater.  Also, as a wise consumer you want to be aware of the % moisture in the canned food.  Water is an inexpensive ingredient, one you can add at home before serving.  If you compare 2 brands that are both 6 ounces, the one with less water will have more nutrition and calories, and be more economical.

Should you  feed as much as the bag tells you to feed?  In a word, NEVER.  Pet food companies want you to buy more food, and so they  recommend over feeding. You may think this sounds cynical, but it is also true.   Know that the average 10# cat should be eating 200-250kcals total per day.  If you have questions on how much to feed your individual cat, please contact us and we will be glad to help you.  Always bring specific diet related questions with you for your cats annual wellness exam, a perfect time to discuss nutrition specifics for you cat. 

How many calories are in the foods that you are feeding?  This important information is usually available on the pet food web site only.  Most companies do not print calories on their labels, because this in not required by law.  Dry food formulations can vary from between 300- 600 kcal per cup! Why is this important to know?  It is really the only way to know how much food per day you should be feeding to prevent obesity. 

Is grain free important?  The short answer is yes and no.  Ideally, I want you to look for a LOW CARBOHYDRATE, high protein food.  The term "grain-free" implies this, but in reality many of these foods are full of non-grain carbohydrates like potato flour, pea flour and other starches.  The only way to know what you are buying is to read the ingredient list.

Do you want to explore this topic further on your own?  Here is a link to Dr. Lisa A Pierson's webpage that has a very useful comparison chart of the nutritional value of many popular cat foods  and is really worth checking out:  nutritional chart pdf. 

I hope this blog has helped make your next trip to the cat food isle  less daunting.  Companies are regularly changing their ingredients, labels and the quality of their brands.  Being a cautious and wise consumer is our only defense when shopping for the best foods -for ourselves and our pets!
 As always, if you found this information useful, please feel free to share with your cat-loving friends.  Dr.  Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why BLUEBERRIES should be in your cat food

If you read the labels of the higher priced brands of pet food(as I encourage you to do) , you will see ingredients like blueberries or cranberries or flax seed and other recognizable people food.  At first glance, that just makes no sense.  Cats eat meat in the wild.  They are carnivores. And maybe you pass these food by thinking my cat shouldn't eat a food with fruit or seeds added.

But wait!  Lets take a step back, and talk about functional foods for a bit.  Functional foods are beneficial nutritional ingredients that have a positive effect on the body at a cellular level and may help to prevent, manage, or even reverse a variety of chronic diseases. -or in simple terms "foods with a function".   Many of these functional foods contain phytonutrients.  Carotenoids, which include alpha-carotene and beta-carotine, are probably the most widely known class of phytonutrients. Blueberries are high in phytochemicals called flavinoids which are anitoxidants.  Antioxidants are important in helping the body handle environmental toxins, help protect against heart disease and cancer.  The fiber in fresh fruits and vegetables also helps promote optimal GI functioning and weight loss. 

There is a new scientific field called nutrigenomics, which is the science of how the foods that we eat  affect the body at cellular level (at our epigenome) which in turn alters our genetic predisposition toward health or disease.   To me, this almost sounds like science fiction!    I just finished reading a book called Canine Nutrigenomics, The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health by Dr. W Jean Dodds, DVM.,     If you are a science nerd like I am, you will enjoy this book.  She discusses functional foods for pets with specific medical conditions like arthritis and obesity.  A good read!

A functional food that I add to my pets diet is fish oil.  Omega-3 fatty acids are heat sensitive and so should be added just before feeding time.  A fish oil fatty acid supplement has so many benefits for health so if there is one functional food supplement that you give to your pet regularly, let it be this one!

  A list of functional foods, besides blueberries and fish oil includes:  coconut oil, tumeric, milk thistle, pomegranates, probiotics and spirulina.

My takeaway point is this.  You don't have to be satisfied with the nutrition in the can or bag -you can add functional foods in small amounts to IMPROVE the nutrition for your cat.  Our cats are counting on us -lets make their food tasty AND healthy!    I encourage you to bring the bag and cans of any food you are feeding with you at your cat's next wellness visit.  We will incorporate nutritional advice with your wellness appointment, and take the time to answer any nutritional questions that you have.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Canine Influenza and Your Cat

This is a virus that can potentially be shared from dog to cat. Why is this important to you as a cat owner? As many of you cat owners also have dogs in your family, this is especially vital information.  Read carefully.  I have added additional links for further information at the end of this blog.  Note:  strictly indoor cats with NO exposure to dogs are still at risk, as an influenza virus can be carried from a human (on your shoe or coat or hand if you handle an infected dog) to your indoor cat.  This is called "fomite" transmission and it is possible with any flu virus.
Below is specific current information outlining what is known about Canine Influenza.                       


MADISON-Canine influenza virus (CIV) has affected at least 1,000 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana in the last month, including one confirmed case in the Madison area. Previously thought to be caused by the H3N8 strain, which has been circulating in North America since 2004, recent tests from the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (WVDL) and the New York State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University have identified the strain as H3N2.

"It's believed that the H3N2 strain was introduced here from Asia," says Keith Poulsen, WVDL diagnostic and case outreach coordinator and clinical assistant professor at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM). "The commercially available vaccines for CIV are made to protect against the H3N8 strain, and their effectiveness against the H3N2 strain is unknown at this time."

Neither CIV strain is related to the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu, which was recently reported in a commercial flock in Jefferson County; they are completely different strains that affect separate species.

Both CIV strains can cause persistent cough, runny nose, and fever. A small percentage of dogs will develop more severe clinical signs, and some will not show any symptoms at all. The infection has been associated with some deaths. Currently, there is no evidence that either CIV strain is contagious to humans; however, H3N2 has caused infection and respiratory illness in cats.

"We're advising pet owners to seek veterinary medical care, including diagnostic testing and potential treatment for dogs and cats exhibiting clinical signs of CIV," says Sandi Sawchuk, head of primary care at UW Veterinary Care (UWVC) and SVM clinical instructor.

For pet owners, UWVC recommends the following:

--If possible, get your dog vaccinated. Although it is unknown if commercial vaccines will be effective against the H3N2 strain, they will reduce the incidence and severity of disease in dogs infected with the H3N8 strain, which is still in circulation. There is no feline vaccine at this time.

--Avoid bringing your dog into close contact with other dogs.

--Wash your hands and change your clothes if you work with or are exposed to sick dogs before handling your own pets at home. Soap and water is very effective at inactivating influenza virus.

--Call your veterinarian for further instructions if your dog or cat is showing signs of persistent cough, runny nose, and fever.

What is the time course of infection?
Specific infection studies have not bee conducted with the new H3N2 CIV strain circulating in the US, but based on other influenza viruses more generally, incubation period is expected to be 2-3 days, with clinical signs last 5-7 days and viral shedding extending to 10-14 days following the onset of clinical disease.

What are general recommendations for clients?
  1. Vaccinate dogs when possible - despite unknown efficacy of current H3N8 commercial vaccines to prevent or diminish clinical disease with the new H3N2 virus - to the best of our knowledge, the original H3N8 virus has not disappeared.
  2. Maintain good general infection control principles when exposed to other dogs, e.g. limit direct dog-to-dog oronasal contact.
  3. Soap and water is very effective at inactivating virus.
  4. The virus will live in the environment for 24-48 hours in the majority of cases.
  5. Wash your hands and change your clothes if you work with, or are exposed to, sick dogs before handling your own pets at home.                                                             Influenza