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