Friday, July 29, 2011

Get Grandma out of the basement.

I saw a 19 year old cat yesterday for a variety of issues, as you can imagine. Thru my history taking, I found out that the only litterbox was in their basement. They were, essentially, making grandma travel all the way down into the basement every time she had to urinate.  Since she was in kidney failure, this was 6+ times a day.
 Now this guy loved his cat, don't get me wrong.  He thought it was giving her needed exercise.  Makes sense. What makes MORE sense is to give an old cat the option of a litterbox on EACH floor of the house.
 It also makes sense to add more water bowls in conveniently located spots, as dehydration is a frequent and serious problem in older cats.
 Feeding only soft food to any cat over 14 is a recommendation that I make to all my clients.  Why? -it increases their water intake as most soft food is at least 75% water, it is easier to chew and digest, and it usually contains higher quality, less processed ingredients. 
 As your cat ages, making some simple changes to their home environment will not only make their life easier, it may actually help them live longer!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Maxie is peeing on the rug.

Today Maxie peed on the rug by the back door.  She had done this once before, last week.  This time the owner called me for advice.
Cats pee out of the box for MANY different reasons.  But EACH cat has one very specific reason for starting this behavior.  The challenge is detecting the reason, and finding a solution.
I ALWAYS BEGIN with a physical exam and urinalysis to rule out a medical problem.  Medical problems do not go away, cause pain and can lead to a life threatening  urinary blockage.
If the urinalysis does not indicate crystals or blood or high protein or bacteria, and the physical exam is normal, then we are dealing with a behavior problem.  Maxie had completely normal urine and a very comfortable belly.
So, I put my detective hat on and asked the owner 20 questions. It turns out that Maxie's owner purchased a new dehumidifier last week, and set it up at the base of the basement stairs.  The litterboxes are in the basement, so Maxie, who is a nervous cat,  had to walk past the noisy, "scary new thing" to go to the bathroom.  Hmmmm!
I believe, in Maxie's case, adding a litterbox to the first floor, and putting the dehumidifier in an area far from the basement litterboxes will solve this particular mystery.  Now, Maxine can go back to being a perfect angel, and the owner can safely walk around his house in stocking feet without any suprises!

 Here is a fantastic link for anyone with this type of behavior problem.

The litterbox from Your Cat's Point of View

Next time:  What should I feed my cat?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My cat is too loud!


I do behavior consultations.  People with cat problems come to me for advice.   But I  was suprised to see "cat is too loud" on my appointment schedule.  Then I found out it was a Bengal, and I had to smile.  Purebred Bengals are amazing cats -they are inquisitive, active, social, very intelligent, they love people....and are very vocal.
When the owners showed up for their behavior consult everyone in the clinic could hear them arrive.  MEOW.    MEOW.    MEOW.........  This cat did not have an indoor voice!  While trying to discuss their concerns over the constant meowing (can cats scream?), I found out that the only time the cat is quiet is when he is A-sleeping  B-eating or C-interacting with one of the owners.  As the  conversation continued, the cat went from the the table to the floor to the counter to the floor to the windowsill to the  floor to the lap to the floor in the first minute.    I was getting dizzy just watching him. 
This  diagnosis was simple -(drum roll please) this cat is BORED!!!
Certain breeds (like Bengals) need mental stimulation and social interaction and exercise to be happy.  This guy was an only cat living with 2 adults.  He had no cat buddies, no kids buddies, no dog buddies, no bird buddies.    His food was served to him in a bowl.  He was strictly indoors.  He has no regular playtime, no cat towers, and no toy rotation.
One of my favorite links for fantastic advise on how to keep your indoor cat "busy and happy"  is
Indoor Cat Initiative .  You will find a section on indoor cats needs, life stressors, problem solving, and (yes) ideas for increasing the activity of your cat!  You can even train your cat to run an obstacle course,  and then compete in cat agility -REALLY.  Watch the video below for an example -oh and by the way, this is a Bengal running this course!
Dr. Flatley

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How hot is too hot?

Today I had a client ask me if 110 degrees was too hot for their cat.  They had a sun room that the cats enjoy and today the temperature was close to 110.  It is true that healthy cats enjoy warm temperatures and sunshine BUT they also will move out of the heat occasionally to regulate their internal thermometers.   Here is the danger.  In an enclosed sunroom where can these cats go to cool down IF they are too warm?  Hyperthermia is a life threatening condition that comes on quickly and needs to be recognized IMMEDIATELY.  The signs are very suble in the cat.  Prevention is the key!
Please do not allow your pets to "decide" all things.  I recommend treating your cats as if they were a 2 year old child.  Yes, they can make their own decisions, but they are not always the right ones.  They need to be watched, monitored and protected.
Heat index dangers are not just for people.  Keep your cats indoors AND cool during these severe heat spells.  A fan located near their sleeping area is a safe addition.  Scrub out the food and water dishes daily in this heat to decrease bacteria buildup.  Give fresh cool water  several times a day.  Did you know that animals are much less likely to drink water if the water temperature is over 80 degrees.
Keep cool... and hug the cat! 
Dr. Flatley

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Welcome to the Fox Valley Cat Clinic Blog!

I am very  excited to be writing a blog for  Fox Valley Cat Clinic.   I will be including up to date  helpful tips on cat care, information and guidance on cat behavior,  interesting  feline cases, my personal take on nutrition, and Chinese Veterinary Herbal Medicine.  PLEASE check back soon and often for new updates! 
Dr. Flatley