Thursday, December 22, 2011


Most cats LOVE playing with a dangly, twitchy, bouncing string.  Some cats take play too far.   Take Jake, for example.  Jake was helping his owner embroider some Christmas gifts.  Enter the  Rayon Embroidery Thread......It came on a spool that rolled.....It was RED and a snake.  It was fun to chew.  It felt good against my teeth...OOOOPS!  I swallowed some!
 48 hours later, really sick cat, scared owners.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Have you ever pulled a string out of your cats mouth?   Here are FOUR things to know about "string foreign bodies" that may prevent your cat getting into Jake's situation.

ONE:  If the string is "organic", it may digest.  Cotton is organic.  If you hold the string tight and pull, and it breaks, it is probably organic.  MOST thread and yarns are MAN MADE fibers -nylon, polyester, rayon -this is the stuff they make fishing line out of -This thread will not break when pulled.  And it will not digest.  SO, if you let your cat play with string or yarn -BE SURE IT WILL BREAK when pulled!

TWO:  Often, a string that is swallowed will pass thru the GI tract.  You may see tell-tale evidence in the litter box.  If you do, consider yourself lucky, but FIND THE SOURCE of the string and eliminate it.

THREE:  If you EVER see a string hanging out of the rectum of your pet (cat OR dog), NEVER PULL ON IT!  You should cut it short, and wait for the rest to pass on its own.  Pulling can cause damage to the intestines if the string is a MAN MADE FIBER (see rule one.)

FOUR:  IF your cat likes to chew/ swallow foreign material, I can guarentee that they will NEVER learn their lesson.  You will need to police their environment 24/7 to keep them away from whatever they love to chew.  You may need to put the embroidery thread, or yarn or fishing rods under LOCK AND KEY (really)! 

Jake is now home from the Fox Valley Cat Clinic, recovering nicely from his stomach and intestinal surgery.  I am certain that Jake's owners have learned their lesson, but I am pretty sure that Jake will soon be up for a quick game of "dancing thread!"

From my cats to yours, a Wish for a  Holiday full of purrs and happy feet, a warm nap with your favorite person,  a squirrel outside your window, and a tummy full of your favorite meat.
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Ode: In Memory of Franklin

This piece first appeared in the Portland Oregonian on September 11, 1925.  It was given to me, framed, as a gift in 1995  in memory of a special patient of mine.  I am now sharing it with you after the passing of a very special dog in my life-Franklin. 

"Where shall I bury my dog?"

There are various places in which a dog may be buried.  I am thinking now of a Australian Shepherd dog, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as I am aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought.  This dog is buried beneath an apple tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the apple will strew petals on the green lawn of his grave.  Beneath an apple tree or a cherry tree or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog.  Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavouous bone, or lifted his head to challenge some strange intruder.  These are good places, in life or in death.  Yet it is a small matter.  For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as life, eyes kindling, laughing, begging, nudging, it matters not at all where the dog sleeps.  On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a lake he knew in puppyhood, or somehwere in the flatness of the farmer's field where most exhilarating cattle graze.  It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained and nothing is lost -if memory lives.  But there is one best place to bury a beloved dog.

If you bury him in this spot, he will come to you when you call -come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again.  And though you may call a dozen living dogs to heel, they shall not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he belongs there.  People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his foot fall, who hear no whimper, people who may never really have had a dog.  Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.  The best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.