Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cat treats and Baseball

What do Cat Treats and Baseball have in common?   I have 2 rules when it comes to treats for my cats.  One, a cat treat should serve a useful purpose , besides being tasty.  And two, I believe that cats should EARN their treats -treats should not be FREE!  I use the treats to get my cats off the couch and MOVING!

 My cats and I play an ALL-American game of baseball (OK, modified somewhat.)   I get to be  the major league pitcher, and they cover the  outfield.   I shake the dental treat jar, and they assume their positions.  I windup and throw.  They chase, attack, crunch and swallow.  And then prepare for the next ball -er... treat. Sometimes they catch a fly ball.   OK, sometimes I roll the ball toward the cat that is not quite so coordinated (Peabody).  He loves the game, but comes up short on catches unless I stack the deck a bit.  No one seems to mind this favoritism, least of all Peabody.

I expect that my cats think of this as a fun aerobic hunt- and-kill game. But  I see this as a way to keep them at a healthy weight, enriching their day with a natural hunting activity while cleaning their teeth one crunch at a time. Win-Win-Win. Oh, and it is really fun!

So now, what do I use as treats?  I use and recommend Purina DH. It is the only "treat" my cats receive.   It is a large round dry crunchy "ball" of kibble that is scientifically formulated to keep tartar from building up on the teeth-and the best part is that cats seem to LOVE DH.  It is fairly low in calories as well, which is a plus as most indoor cats, mine included,  tend to be a bit chubby.

So, as the New Year is just around the corner, and  your New Year Resolutions are under construction, consider adding a resolution like this one:  Every day I will engage  my cat in a game of  " chase and crunch".  It will be great for them in so many ways, and it will make you smile as well!

Let me know how your game of baseball is working at your house.  Please share this, if you have a cat loving friend.  Dr. Maureen Flatley, Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Monday, November 12, 2012

What is wrong with TOBY?

Toby could have lost his sight.  Or developed kidney failure.  This beautiful 12 year old boy is SO lucky that his owners were able to recognize the subtle but abnormal changes occuring in his eye.  What they noticed was a small red area developing in the margin of the iris (the colored part of the eye).  It was not bothering Toby, and he was acting perfectly normal.  But he was suffering from HYPERTENSION, or elevated blood pressure.  This elevated pressure was causing damage to the fragile blood vessels in the iris of one eye.  And could have caused him to go blind....thank goodness I was able to help him before that happened.

HYPERTENSION is a disease of people, and has many causative factors:  genetics, obesity, stress, poor diet, sedentary life style, smoking...  But did you know that high blood pressure is a real threat to your cat as they age as well?  Several of the common diseases seen in older cats, such as kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, hyperthyroidism can be associated with high  blood pressure. 

HYPERTENSION in people (and animals) is a HIDDEN DISEASE.  The blood pressure can be high without ANY outward signs. Toby actually was the lucky one -with an outward sign in his eye before severe damage was done to the rest of his body.  Measuring the BLOOD PRESSURE is the only reliable way to know what is going on at the level of the blood vessels (which is what this is all about!).   Measuring a blood pressure on a cat is very similar to what we are all familiar with -the cuff, and the pressure gauge on your upper arm.  The challenge is that most cats do not appreciate having their feet worked with, and Toby was definitely in this category! 

The benefits of having blood pressure measured in your older cat definitely outways the challenge of taking the measurement.  I recommend having this test done for  any senior cat that is diagnosed with thyroid disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or in the healthy geriatric catagory.  It is a simeple, inexpensive test, and can be SO IMPORTANT to the health and vision of your older cat.  Toby is now on daily medication to control his high blood pressure, and his eyesight is no longer at risk, thanks to Toby's loving owners.

If you found this information helpful, please pass it on to your cat loving friends.  Thanks for following!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nutritional supplements are not just for people these days. 

In fact, there are many supplements that will benefit your cat's health too.  First let me talk a bit about your choice in supplements.  Nutritional supplements, also called nutriceuticals, are not regulated by the FDA. What that means to you as a consumer is that you must be careful in your selection. Read the labels carefully. Understand the ingredients and their uses, or purchase these items from someone that you trust -i.e. your veterinarian. The supplements carried by the Fox Valley Cat Clinic are from sources that I have carefully researched, and that I use on my own pets. I explain to my clients how they work, and when they should be used -if you trust your veterinarian, then ask them BEFORE using over the counter medications. 

Next, lets look at some safe and very effective supplements that you may want to try for your cat.

 PROBIOTICS are a healthy addition to the diet of  any cat  that has gastrointestinal problems, be it vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or just a sensitive stomach.  Probiotics are given daily mixed into each meal.  Feline probiotics need to be specifically formulated for the carnivorous GI tract, so human formulations (like yogurt) are not an appropriate substitute.  Probiotics enable the healthy bacteria to function as they should, which leads to a normalization of food processing.  This is a simple way to keep the GI tract healthy and happy.

GLUCOSAMINE/CHONDROITIN is a commonly used supplement to maintain healthy joints.  These compounds  helps to keep the joint surfaces lubricated and therefore more functional and comfortable.  Research has shown that 50% of cats over 10 years of age, and > 80% of cats over 15 years of age are suffering from arthritis and/or  degenerative joint disease.  Adding this supplement daily to your older cat's diet may make it easier for them to jump up and down, maneuver stairs, get into the litterbox, and just feel better.  Please remember that senior cats won't show obvious signs of arthritis in its early stages.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS  are a fantastic addition to any feline diet.  In the form of Fish Oil, this high powered supplement is packed with antioxidants and other healthy compounds that benefit the heart, the liver, and the GI tract.  Research has shown a positive benefit when used in cats with heart disease, as well as certain  chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, hypertension and arthritis.  It has a fishy taste and smell, so with this as with ALL supplements, start with a VERY small amount mixed well into the food and gradually work up to the appropriate amount.  Cats instinctively don't like anything that changes the smell of their food, be patient and persistent with any food additive.

The take-away message I want to leave you with is that nutritional supplements can be a safe and effective way to boost the nutritional power of your cat's diet.  And diet is often the key to a healthier cat.  Nutriceuticals do not require a prescription and are easily accessible.  So, at your next wellness visit, ask your veterinarian about nutritional supplements that would be of benefit for you cat.

Thanks for following the Fox Valley Cat Clinic blog -if you found this information helpful, please share it with a friend!
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bat is Positive for Rabies in Menasha

It is a fact that in Wisconsin, BATS can carry rabies...and  BATS can easily get into your home or my home...and a flying BAT is the perfect cat play thing -it flies, it squeaks, it squirms, it bites.  This adds up to DANGER.

I recently sent a bat in to be tested for rabies, as it got into a clients house, and the indoor cat played with it, and then killed it.  Unfortunately, the indoor cat also got bit by the bat.  Fortunately, the owner  had recently vaccinated their cat against this dangerous and deadly threat.  Luckily, THIS bat tested negative for rabies, but I have gotten positive results when testing other bats from the Fox Valley, under similar situations.

SO, when asked if an indoor cat really needs to be vaccinated against rabies the answer is a resounding YES PLEASE!  For the safety of your cat and the safety of your family members, keep this very important vaccinations current please!  Remember, 99.9% of rabies kills -cats AND people.

And if you know ANYONE that lets their cat outside, the risk is even greater, as racoons, skunks, fox and other wild animals also carry rabies in Wisconsin.  All it takes is ONE BITE for this virus to be transmitted from one animal to another.  ONE tiny little bite wound..... is it worth the risk?

Please forward this posting to someone who needs to understand the risks of NOT vaccinating their cats!
Thanks for listening,
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, July 5, 2012

5 things to consider when adopting a new cat in the Fox Valley...

This summer, as in summers past, the shelters and rescues are FULL of beautiful kittens and cats that really need a forever home.  Are you tempted as I am?  If you are, this posting is for you. 

My goal with this list is to encourage you to adopt, but also the encourage you to do it carefully, and not to expose your resident cats to  any unnecessary disease.
1.  Many of the rescue cats and kittens  in the Fox Valley area started out as strays.  And strays can  carry skin parasites:  fleas, ear mites, and  lice to name a few.  A new cat can bring skin parasites into your home and share them with your resident cats.

2.  Kittens often carry herpes virus -an upper respiratory virus that is quite contagious.  It is essential that your resident cats are CURRENT on their vaccinations BEFORE bringing a new cat into your protected indoor environment.  This will give  your resident cats protection against herpes

3.  Any cats that share a litterbox are likely to share GI parasites. And ALL GI parasites are contagious to your resident cat.   Please be sure to have a stool sample checked for parasites BEFORE allowing your new cat to share a litterbox. 

4.  A very SLOW introduction of a new cat is MUCH MORE LIKELY to be successful.  This is best done over several weeks, and after your new cat has a clean bill of health from a veterinarian.  Consider using Feliway, a pheramone spray that will  help decrease the stress of introductions.

5.  Ringworm is a fungal infection that is contagious to animals AND  people and quite common in the humid months of summer.  A physical exam is the best way to be sure your new cat will not expose your resident cats, or your family to ringworm. 

We offer a FREE examination to any cat or kitten recently adopted from a local shelter or rescue -so that we can help you and advise you on this new transition.

If you know someone that is considering adopting, please share this information with them.

And if you are not able to adopt  another cat right now, please consider a donation to a local rescue. We have a donation basket in our lobby, so it's easy to drop off ANY needed items.  Just stop in at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic!

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic
Menasha, WI


Monday, June 11, 2012

Mealtime Montras to live by

What meat does your cat seem interested in? -if you are cooking fish for dinner, are they right there watching?  If you make a chicken breast sandwich, do you have sudden helpers?  One of my cats LOVES liver.  I just have to open the container of fresh beef liver, and the cat appears out of nowhere.  A little close observation will usually yield YOUR  cat's answer.

"What should I feed my cat."  (I am asked this question several times every day.)  This is not a simple question to answer, as many cats will not eat what is good for them (but with persistence, you may be able to change their minds.)  Good cat nutrition is essential to keeping your cat healthy, and their weight under control.

It makes sense to feed the protein source that your cat actually wants.  It also makes sense to ROTATE different protein sources if you can.  Most beef/lamb/poultry products in cat food manufactured in the USA are sourced from the USA.  This may not be true for fish.  Fish sources could be international (China...) so be aware of this.  Some higher quality canned cat foods are made from human-grade meat sources, ALWAYS a good thing.   If your cat has skin allergies, you may want to stay away from beef.

"How much protein should be in my cat's food'"  The pet food companies will tell you that 35% is enough protein for your cat. And they will tell you that plant protein is fine.   Mother nature says 90%+ and MEAT is more appropriate for a carnivore.  Cats do best with high protein and low carbohydrate foods, what nature intended them to eat. 

Read the label:  If the food is called "Chicken Medely"  or Beef Stew", it could contain any and all meat sources.  Read the label closely.  Try to chose foods with only MEAT based proteins.  Rice gluten or Soy protein are PLANT based proteins, a cheap protein source, but NOT OK for a meat-eating animal.  By-products, altho a meat based protein source, should never be a first choice.

"How much should I feed." - Please do not follow the recommendations made by the pet food company.  Their primary goal is to sell more cat food, not feed YOUR cat appropriately.  The average 10# cat should be fed between 200-250kcal per day total.  You need to add in treats to this number.  AND you need to find out how many calories are in the food you are feeding.  The internet is the best reliable source for this information.  Or next time you are at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic we will help calculate this for you.

"Can I supplement with table food?"  YES, if you stay within the calorie limit, and feed this as a supplement, not a well balanced meal.   It must be human grade non-processed lean lightly cooked MEAT.  Chicken, turkey, beef liver, beef, pork, chicken gizzards/liver/heart.  Small chewable pieces, not seasoned.  NOT sandwich meat (processed), NOT sausage (processed), NOT ham (cured in salt).  I don't recommend dairy products like ice cream or cheese, as these are not sources of protein.

Do you want BRAND recommendations?  Feel free to stop into the clinic.  I have a large number of the most popular brands catagorized into EXCELLENT, GOOD, FAIR and DO NOT FEED, and we will happily share this with you.

Thanks for reading my blog- if you found it helpful, please share it with a friend :)
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sad Mews: Feline Leukemia in Neenah stables

I am sorry to report that recently I tested a young barn cat from a horse stables outside of Neenah, and he was positive for Feline Leukemia Virus.  This farm has dozens of free roaming cats and kittens, none of which are vaccinated against anything.  This kitten was brought to the Fox Valley Cat Clinic by a good samaritan because he was acting very sick, and indeed he was.  He was sufferring from Feline Infections Peritonitis along with being FeLV+.  And yes, this poor little guy did die.  
I was so saddened by this series of events, that I contacted and enlisted a local cat rescue group to help me with this bad situation.  But,  even though  we were willing to trap, leukemia test, and spay/neuter all of his cats and release the healthy ones back to his stables, and find donations to pay for it all-in hopes of stopping the spread of this deadly cat disease, the owner of the horse stables said ABSOLUTELY NOT.  He was totally closed to the idea of strangers on his property, and was not concerned about the health of these cats, as "they were not his responsibility". 
I realize that I am preaching to the choir, but this attitude is beyond my comprehension.  Please forgive my frustrated venting, but apparently in this situation, that is all I can do.  I know all who read this will understand.  Maybe tomorrow we at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic can save the world (one cat at a time :)
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Friday, May 4, 2012

Life is Good for Crabbie

Living in the country has its charms.  Unfortunately, stray cats are an uncharming fact of life if you live in the country.   Most of these cats are feral, and take off when I approach.  That was Crabbie The Calico's  first response 15 years ago. 

But she hung around thru the summer of 1996, and proceeded to have a litter of kittens under my grainery (much to my chagrin).  So I tamed the kittens once they started to explore their larger world, handled them, socialized them  and placed them into good homes.  And then live trapped Crabbie and spayed/ vaccinated/ leukemia tested her and released her back into my yard. 

And she still hung around.... 
So I started to feed her, and occasionally gave her a pat  with leather gloves.  Crabbie started coming when I called her (for food).  When winter came, my husband (who is a real softie) made up a bed for Crabbie in our garage -fleece blankets, heated water bowl, private litter box.  Crabbie could come and go as she pleased, but chose to spend most winter nights munching from her private foodbowl in the insulated garage.  She started sitting on our kitchen porch if she wanted the garage door opened.  She would be sitting there when I came home from work.   She continued to spend time under our grainery with a variety of wild critters over the years:  rabbits, wood chucks, opposums, and ofcourse other strays.  

This is Crabbie Cat's 15th year as our outside feral cat.   She now runs to us when we call, loves her head scratched, gets daily canned food, tolerates topical flea protection, and sleeps on our deck in the sun when all is quiet in our yard.  She just finished her annual tranquilization/ physical exam/ vaccinations/ grooming/ annual labwork at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic, and she is in amazing health for her age.  This is the first year I let her wake up from her tranquilizer in a carrier in my house (but away from my house pets). It was too cold in the garage for an old lady cat.  I  may not be able to save the world, but for one feral calico- Life is Good.
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Friday, April 20, 2012

Caution when handling outside cats -one word: RABIES

Recently there have been several cases of animal rabies in the news.  Whenever I hear a story about a rabid animal, it reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with a client that did not believe that rabies was real.  She asked me, "if you've never seen a rabid animal, how do you know rabies really exists."  I was rendered speechless (my mouth may even have dropped open :).  This must have been a good dose of reality to a young veterinarian, for this conversation is still fresh in my mind.

Rabies DOES exist in Wisconsin.  And it exists in racoons, foxes, skunks and bats in the wild (to name a few), and in cats, dogs, horses, and cows and people.  And, RABIES IS FATAL (the only exception if the young girl in Fon Du Lac several years ago).

Another fact that may suprise you is that MANY people that let their cats outside, do not give rabies vaccines.  I see this at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic (and discuss it) DAILY in the exam room.  You are putting your family at risk if your cat goes outside without a current rabies vaccine.  Putting the "why would you let your cat roam outside unattended" aside, rabies is a very real threat to any outside animal, even in Wisconsin.

So, here is the point I have been moving towards -cat lovers need to be very cautious about handling ANY outdoor cat.  Please assume any stray is NOT current on rabies vaccination, and therefore a potential carrier of the disease. All it takes is a bite or scratch to your skin.   I ALWAYS wear leather glove when approaching an outdoor stray, as a precautionary measure, and you should too.  Even a kitten.  Any animal that is afraid or startled will bite.  PLEASE don't put yourself in the position that a very good client of mine found herself in last month:  having to euthanize a stray cat that she was trying to rescue because she got bit in the hand, therefore the cat HAD to be tested for rabies  ( which requires microscopic testing of brain tissue -gruesome, but true.)

Takeaway facts.  Rabies kills people.  Rabies is easy to prevent.  Wear gloves around ANY stray cat.
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What is wrong with Butch?

     Meet Butch.  He is one on my diabetes mellitus patients .  He is a gentle friendly fellow who is a delight to work with.  Sadly, last week Butch suddenly stopped eating, stopped playing, and  did not want to move around at home.  Appetite is often the first sign that a cat is sick, and this is especially true with a diabetic cat as they usually have a ravenous appetite. 
     Upon examination, Butch's leg muscles were too weak to support his body, and although he was purring and kneading, he was not himself.  To identify exactly what we were dealing with, I ran a complete blood workup on Butch.  While waiting for the test results, Butch accepted an IV catheter and fluids  to help with his hydration, and was willing to eat small amounts of soft food with some persuasion.  The lab tests showed a dramatically low potassium level in his blood.  Potassium is an essential electrolyte in blood that is in part responsible for muscle strength.
    Cats with hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood), are at risk for severe muscle weakness.  Certain medical conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes may lead to low potassium because of potassium loss in the urine.  A chemistry panel evaluates the potassium level as well as kidney function, liver function and blood sugar.   Without a chemistry panel many diseases, like hypokalemia for example, can go undiagnosed.
     Butch received IV potassium during his  hospital stay at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic and oral potassium supplement at home over the last  week.  I just recheck Butch yesterday, and he looked like he was feeling much better -playing with his cat friends at home and eating up a storm, and even putting some needed weight back on.  Kudos to Butch's owners for being great cat owners and quickly recognizing that Butch was in need of medical care.  We at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic love you Butch!  Great to see that your spunky attitude is back and that Life is Good!
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The mystery of celery and its effects on your cat

Those of you that follow Fox Valley Cat Clinic on facbook may already know about my unscientific study.  If not, this is your chance to be a part of my research. :)
I am interested in the effects of celery leaves on your cat compared to catnip.  Sounds crazy?  I have a good client that recently told me a story about his cat's suprising response to fresh celery leaves.  This cat treats celery leaves as if they were catnip by acting silly, rolling, rubbing and  vocalizing.
Having never heard of this response before, I thought I would experiment on my menagerie as well as ask others to report their results of similar celery leaf experimentation at home.
The results?  So far, no other cats are interested in celery leaves.
Please feel free to test this out at home and report back to me.  Perhaps our test group is not large enough...?
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Appleton stray cat carries International Mystery

Today I was stumped by an egg. An egg in a stool sample from a young stray Appleton shelter cat.  After 25+ years of examining parasite eggs under a microscope, I thought I could not be stumped.  But this week, after some head scratching and internet researching and some denial, I sent this sample to Marshfield Lab Parasitology Dept for expert identification. The test results.....( Drum roll please.....)
This stray cat's  fecal analysis revealed many tapeworm eggs called Diphylobothrium Latum.  The mysterious question is why is this Wisconsin cat  carrying a tapeworm found only in foreign parts like Thailand, Japan, Russia, Norway, Scotland?

Detective work unearthed the facts.  This tapeworm, called the Fish Tapeworm, has an interesting life cycle.  It starts as an egg in a mammal (cats, dogs, and yes, humans).  The egg finds its way into the water supply and is ingested by a small water kritter, and up the food chain into large tasty fish (like salmon).  If this salmon is ingested uncooked or undercooked, the parasite grows to adulthood in the fish-eating mammal (Fluffy, Fido, or you/me).  A trip to the local grocery's fish section solves the International Mystery:  shrimp from Thailand, cod from Norway, salmon from Scotland - we now have a global food supply at our fingertips.  And also  international  parasites :)

The moral of the story is two fold.  Even your indoor cat could be carrying parasites so have an annual stool sample checked as recommended.
AND always, always, always cook fish completely before consuming....(sushi-eaters beware!)
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dog Cats and Why we LOVE them.

Peabody is a dog-cat. If you have met Peabody (he lived at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic for the first year of his life before retiring to my home in 2010), you would probably agree. The "dog-cat" personality is fascinating to me because in many ways these cats are more canine than feline.   Dog-cats are social creatures, enjoying strangers, kids, and dogs and new cats.  They come when called.  They fetch toys (and actually bring them back).  Peabody can be held like a baby for an indeterminate period of time.  Although it has not been tried, I am certain he would willingly accept being dressed up like a doll.  He willingly accepts bathing, nail trims, grooming -anything that involves human contact.

So in a species noted for their aloofness,  where does this social trusting personality come from?  In Peabody's case, I believe it was created.   He was brought to me at 6 weeks of age by a local rescue.  He was severely ill from feline distemper, and required long days of forcefeeding , and medicating.  He was too weak to use a litterbox, clean himself or eat on his own.  It was weeks of TLC and constant gentle handling  before his strength gradually returned.  Every day he got stronger, and more responsive.  He started to purr and kneed anytime he was handled.  When not being handled, he would talk, and talk, and talk until being handled again.  Looking back on his early life, I believe that the constant care he required to regain his health allowed him to develop this social, interactive dog-like personality.
So, it was a happy-ever-after story for one tiny sick little resuced tabby named Peabody the dog-cat.
Dr. Maureen Flatley