Thursday, June 14, 2018

Healthy Reasons To Own A Cat (or two...)


 
Any cat owner will tell you that having a cat in their home has infinite benefits, but did you know that it’s been scientifically proven that pet ownership is good for your health?
They’re good for your heart: We all know that having a feline companion can lower your stress levels. Even a quick lap cuddle can release calming chemicals into your body which lowers blood pressure.  Lower stress can actually lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and a stroke by around 30-40 percent.
Keeping your cat happy may help you heal: A cat’s purr creates vibration at a frequency that has been shown to have a positive healing effect on joint mobility following injuries by promoting bone strength and helping to heal soft tissue. The vibration of the purr has even been shown to help with infection and to reduce swelling.
Cuddling with you kitty improves your sleeping habits: Multiple studies have reported that the majority of people with cats in their home sleep better with their cat in their bed than with a human companion.  Better sleep has been show to promote overall health, better memory and creativity, and even increased productivity on the job. Who doesn’t feel better after a good night’s sleep?
Less sneezing: The National Institutes of Health released a study in 2002 that found that children who were exposed to a cat during their first year of life are less likely to develop allergies as they grow up. And not only pet allergies! Allergies to dust mites, ragweed, and grass are also less common.
Crazy cat ladies (or gentlemen) are more intelligent: In one study, cat lovers scored higher in intelligence and were more likely to have a college degree that those who consider themselves ‘dog people’.
Your kitty may manage  symptoms of depression and mental illness: Loneliness has proven to be a large factor in many disease including depression and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Who can deny that their pet is a positive influence in their life and gives them a reason to get out of bed each day (to fill the food bowl for breakfast if nothing else)? Studies have shown that having a pet in the home is beneficial for individuals with Autism or suffering from PTSD.
They teach us to enjoy the little things in life: Take a lesson from you furry friend. Cherish the simple things. If your cat can get joy out of cardboard box, a dancing red light from a laser pointer, or the jingle from a rolling toy, you can surely take a few moments from your busy day to find something that makes you smile.
So now you know. Not only is your cat a loving member of your family, but they do an important job. Keep your cat healthy and they’ll keep you healthy!  Now, time to cuddle the cat.


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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Keep the claws, train the cat -use FELISCRATCH


 
FELISCRATCH, a brand new product to encourage appropriate scratching behavior, is now available at Fox Valley Cat Clinic.

 

 Feliscratch  works  in 3 different  ways:

1.    The pheromone message directs the scratching to the surface where the product has been applied.

2.    Catnip contributes to attract your cat to the scratching post

3.    Blue stained lines that mimic the visual message of the scratch marks

 
Feliscratch is proven effective!

1.    With unwanted scratching on both vertical and horizontal surfaces

2.    In cats exhibiting unwanted scratching or newly adapted cats/kittens

3.    With single or multiple cats in the same household

 Once you have successfully drawn your cat to the appropriate scratching surface or post, rewards should be readily available to encourage repeating the appropriate behavior.

 Training a cat to use a scratching post can be a challenge.  It is accomplished by enticing/rewarding the cat when it uses an appropriate surface. Rubbing catnip or a desired treat on the post and/or holding treats or toys part-way up the post can encourage stretching and scratching. A recent addition to the battle of inappropriate scratching, Feliscratch can easily be applied to the post to entice your cat or kitten to scratch where you want them to scratch!

 

Scratching is very instinctual for cats. The act of scratching is believed to act as general maintenance for the claws, a way to stretch their muscles, as well as to leave visual markers for other cats.

  Working with a young kitten may prevent inappropriate and destructive scratching as an adult.  Start FELISCRATCH early!  Provide your cat  with both vertical and horizontal services that are appropriate for scratching. Vertical scratching posts must be sturdy and able to support your cat's full adult weight and tall enough to allow your cat to stretch out completely.

  Most cats prefer wood, cardboard, rough rope or fabric. Place scratching posts in areas that are agreeable to your cats such as in view of windows or in sleeping areas, and close to feeding stations. Multiple cat households need plenty of scratching locations –remember, cats do not like to share.

 To deter inappropriate scratching it may be effective to place double-stick tape on surfaces that you want the cat to avoid. If scratching continues, restrict your cat's access to specific rooms or areas that contain the objects. Trimming the nails often and/or the use of products such as Soft Paws may also be effective in protecting surfaces you want your cat to avoid.
 
 

 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Can Your New Cat Make You Sick?



One of the most important reasons to keep your cat healthy is to keep  your family healthy as well.  Kittens are cute, but can be carrying a variety of zoonotic diseases.  Following your veterinarian’s recommendations on routine health care, vaccines, screenings, and wellness exams, may prevent health problems from spreading to you or your family

 

What is Zoonotic Disease:  a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people or, more specifically, a disease that normally exists in animals but  can infect humans.

 

How would you catch a disease from your cat?

Transmission of a zoonotic disease can happen when a person comes into direct contact with bodily fluids or waste such as saliva (via a bite) or feces (while handling or cleaning a litter box) from an infected cat. Additionally, a disease may be contracted through contact with water or food that has been contaminated by an infected cat.

What diseases can you catch from your cat?

Bacterial Infection

            Cat-scratch disease/fever is by far the most common zoonotic disease associated with cats

Parasitic Infections

            Intestinal parasites, including roundworms and hookworms, can also cause disease in people

Fungal Infections

            Ringworm

Protazoal (single cell organisms) Infections

            Common protozoal diseases in cats and humans are cryptosporidium, giardia, and toxoplasmosis.

Viral Infection

            Rabies!

Prevention is of KEY importance.

By identifying any health issues with your cat early, through a veterinary visit and diagnostics as recommended by your veterinarian, you can stay safe. General hygiene practices are also extremely important for any pet owner.

Who is at the highest risk of catching a disease from your cat?

Some people are more at risk than average. Those with immature or weakened immune systems, such as infants, pregnant women, individuals with immunodeficiency problems, the elderly, and people undergoing medical therapies or taking certain medication, are more susceptible to zoonotic infections than others.

 

How can you protect yourself?

Common sense and good hygiene will go a long way toward keeping you, your family, and your cat free of zoonotic diseases. Here are a few simple precautions recommended by www.vet.cornell.edu:

  • Wash hands before eating and after handling cats.
  • Schedule annual checkups and fecal exams for your cat.
  • Seek veterinary care for sick cats.
  • Keep rabies vaccinations current.
  • Avoid letting your cat lick your face, food utensils, or plate.
  • Consider keeping cats indoors.
  • Seek medical attention for cat bites.
  • Feed cats cooked or commercially processed food.
  • Scoop litter boxes to remove fecal material daily.
  • Periodically clean litter boxes with scalding water and detergent.
  • Cover children's sandboxes when not in use.
Stay safe out there!
Kim, CVT 
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trip Planning With Your Cat in Mind


 
Summer has finally arrived!   Many of us are looking forward to hitting the road for vacation. If you’re planning on traveling with your cat for the first time, being well prepared can greatly reduce the stress of a long trip for both you and your cat. Sedatives and tranquilizers are typically only appropriate in very extreme cases of travel anxiety. Check with your veterinarian to address any health concerns you have prior to traveling.

Prepare your cat for travel by introducing them to the conditions they will be experiencing during the trip. Will you be using a different litter box or feeding dishes while on the road? Be sure to introduce these items several weeks before leaving by using them in addition to regular items at home. Does your cat like their carrier? First, be sure the carrier or crate is an appropriate size. Your cat should be able to sit, stand, lie down, and turn around comfortably. Leave the crate out while still at home and offer food and treats in the crate to make it a ‘happy place’. Take your kitty for short rides around the block or through a drive through to habituate them to the motion of the car and the sounds of the road. Gradually increase the length of these short trips to build up your cat’s tolerance and comfort in the car.

Do you have a cat travel bag packed? Be sure to include vaccine records, health certificate if traveling across state lines, toys/comfort items, treats, food, and medicines. If your cat is not microchipped, be sure that they wear a collar and tags with updated contact information. Did you include pit stops in your travel time? Be sure to allow time for your cat to take breaks. This means time outside of the carrier, but still safely confined, to use the litter box and drink water every 2-3 hours. It is often best to only offer food when stopped for a prolonged period of time, such as overnight. This will help to prevent stomach upset/motion sickness.

Remember to never leave your cat alone in the car. It takes only a short amount of time for temperatures to climb to dangerous levels. In case of an emergency, before leaving, research veterinarians or emergency clinics located in your city of destination. If something happens, you don’t want to have to scramble for a contact number or address.

Planning to fly instead of drive? Check with your specific airline for guidelines and requirements of documentation of your cat’s health status and vaccines. Booking a direct flight will usually shorten travel time and be less stressful for your cat. Be sure that your airline allows for the cat/carrier to stay with you during flight. It is not recommended that your cat fly in the cargo area due to unregulated temperatures and noise level. Be prepared! Line the carrier with absorbent pads or towels that can be removed and replaced easily in case of an ‘accident’. And have a sealable bag ready for disposal of the soiled items.

Summer traveling with your cat can be fun, but planning starts weeks before you pack your own bags and jump in the car. Remember that most cats spend the large majority of their life in their home environment. New sights, sounds, smells, changes in their daily schedules, and exposing them to new people and experiences can be upsetting. With a little effort and forethought as a pet owner, your cat has the potential to become a great travel companion!
 
Kim Brewer, CVT
Fox Valley Cat Clinic LLC

 

 

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!


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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