Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going RAW (with your cats diet).

Raw diets  are quite popular with some  people, and with many cats.  There are those who believe that a raw diet is the best thing since sliced bread.  Many veterinarians however extol the dangers of raw diets with words of Salmonella poisoning and zoonotic disease potential.

My opinion has changed with my recent study of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  You see, the Chinese have believed for 1000's of years that "you are what you eat".  In  Chinese Medicine, it is believed that different foods and herbs have varying potentials to help keep the body balanced.  Some foods support a deficient condition (like chronic renal failure in an old cat) and some foods are more appropriate for an excess conditions (like some types of cancers).   Balance is an essential key to good health, and our diet is a large part of what keeps us healthy. 

The face is that raw diets are a feline's natural diet.  The healthy gastrointestinal tract of the cat is specifically designed for this diet, with a very acidic stomach and relatively short intestine, allowing a shortened transit time.  This decreases a cats risk of infection from eating a raw diet.  However, a raw diet, being unprocessed, requires a very healthy GI tract to breakdown, and also requires more energy to metabolize.  Therefore, while being a VERY APPROPRIATE diet for the young healthy cat, it is not an appropriate diet for EVERY cat.   For example, cats that have gastrointestinal disease  may not tolerate a raw diet, until the imbalance in the GI tract is addressed.   Cats that have a weakened GI tract due to old age or chronic disease may not have the extra metabolic energy required to break down and utilize an  unprocessed and "cold" raw diet. 

Raw diets, if fed as a sole source of nutrition for your cat, need to be well balanced with essential vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids for health.  Some premade raw diets ARE balanced and some ARE NOT.  Be sure to label read. If its nutritionally balanced, it will say so.  If your inspired to make your own raw diets, do your research thoroughly first, including consultation with a veterinary nutritionist.  How to contact a Veterinary Nutritionist.

When chosing a raw diet, it is best to stick to the motto "feathers and hooves".  This means chicken, turkey, duck, beef, venison, lamb.  No raw fish -there are a variety of reasons for this: about feeding your cat fish.

Transitioning to a raw diet, as with any new diet, should be done slowly, over a period of 2-4 weeks.  This allows the gut's flora to accomodate to the food change.

At my house, my 2 young healthy cats, Posie and Peabody, enjoy a meal of Nature's Variety raw medallions as part of their diet 3 times a week.  My dog Franklin, who I am managing for a cancer condition, has been on an  exclusively raw diet for over 1+ years, and doing very well!  Consider adding a raw meal into your weekly rotation of food for your pet.
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

5 Things to Do If You Vacation Away From Your Cat.

A very good client of mine went on a 10 day vacation, leaving her 15 year old cat home alone.  The neighbor was to check on Kitty daily, offering fresh food and water. But, the worst thing happened:  the neighbor forgot.  Kitty went without food OR water for at least 7 days.  When her owners arrived home, Kitty was alive but dehydrated and listless.  With medical attention, Kitty was able to recover from this episode, but the owner was heartsick about what her beloved cat had endured. 

Kitty inspired me to cover this topic today.  Here are 5 things to think about before your next vacation.

Keep in regular contact with your pet caregiver while on vacation. In this day and age of twitter, facebook and gmail, daily contact is easy and convenient and reassuring.  A daily "doing great today" or quick camera picture of Fluffy sleeping on the bed is proof positive that things at home are going well.

Notify your veterinarian of your plans.  If a stranger needs to bring your cat in for a medical problem while you are away, this advanced notification will streamline the process.

Put all of your pet care instructions in writing each time you go away.  Include how much to feed and how often, how often to scoop the box, what to expect as far as appetite and activity level, what to watch for that would indicate a call to the vet is needed (and leave the clinic name and number).

Consider a professional pet sitter, or a boarding facility- especially if your cat is geriatric or has medical problems.  There is much less risk of an unnoticed problem developing if a professional is watching your cat.  For example, at our boarding facility we document the appetite, urine and stool output twice a day for each boarder .  A professional would be able to identify a problem early, before it became serious.

Have a back up plan in place.  If a problem develops with your pet, what will you do.  What if your pet caregiver can't follow thru with care while you are gone.   It is essential that you leave an emergency phone number no matter where you are going.  Perhaps leave a phone number of a close family member in case you can't be reached, or aren't able to return early if necessary.  Have the pet caregiver contact your veterinarian if they have questions about care while you are gone.  These plans may not be needed, but are much easier to put into place before you leave on your trip. 

We all deserve a vacation, but it is so important to know that our pets are healthy and happy while we are off traveling!

If you have found this helpful, please feel free to share it with your cat loving friends.
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Friday, November 4, 2011

East meets West in Menasha

As some of you know, I have gone back to school.  I am studying to become Certified in Chinese Herbal Veterinary Medicine.  Since I have started integrating Chinese Herbal Medicine into my practice I am suprised to find a ready acceptance to a more natural, holistic approach to treating my patients. 

What is Herbal Medicine?  Herbal therapy is the use of therapeutic medicines derived from whole plants.  Herbs are used to move the Qi (energy) thru the appropriate meridians as well as tonify (strengthen) the Yin or Yang, guiding the body back to its natural state of balance.

What are Herbal Formulas?  Herbal formulas are a carefully chosen complex grouping of plants that act together in a very specific way in the body.  These plants are processed into a powdered extract that is a very strong and effective treatment for a variety of diseases.  The herbal formulas can be used alone or in combination with western medicines to increase the therapeutic effects of treatment, or allow a lower and safer dose of medicine to be effective.

How is an Herbal Extract given to my cat?  Herbal medicines come in several forms.  Powders can be mixed directly into canned food, mixed with liquid (water, milk, broth) and given orally by syringe, or  put into capsules and given like a pill.  Or you can mix with cheese, yogurt, ice cream, tuna, butter -whatever your cat will eat readily.  Most cats will take the herbal prescription in food if you start with a very small amount and gradually work up to the recommended dose.

What kinds of diseases can the herbs treat?  Chinese Herbal Medicine can be used to treat a great variety of medical conditions including:  skin allergies, chronic vomiting, chronic colitis or diarrhea, weight loss,  asthma, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, renal disease, chronic cough, arthritis, and liver disease, just to name a few!
Dr. Maureen Flatley