Saturday, December 21, 2013

The legend of the Christmas Tabby

Tabby cats hold a special place in my heart. My very first cat, Geraldine, was a tabby.  Since then,
I have shared my life with many special tabbies:  P.J., Pipsqueak,  Squeaker, and currently a crazy cat named Peabody.

 When a friend shared this tabby  Christmas Story with me, it warmed my heart.  And as a Christmas gift to all of you devoted cat lovers, I share it now with you.  I hope it adds PEACE and JOY to your Holiday Season.

legend of the tabby cat

Author Unknown
And so it came to pass that a husband and wife journeyed to a small town called Bethlehem, as the king had decreed that all the people stand to be counted in the small towns and teeming cities from whence they came. The journey was long and hard for both, but especially for the young wife, who was very near to bringing her firstborn son into the world.
When they at last reached the crowded and noisy town, the expectant father searched hurriedly for a place for them to rest and where the child could safely be born. But at every door, he was told there was no available room. Finally, an old inkeeper, though having no space left in his inn, took pity on them and offered them shelter in the small stable used by his animals.
It was there that the child was born, surrounded by beasts of the field. As the night's cold grew, the baby fretted and cried while his parents pondered how to make him comfortable. His father tried stuffing straw into the open places in the walls, and his mother tried warming him with her meager wrappings. But still, the baby cried on.
All the while, a tiny kitten watched from the corner. "Of course the little baby is cold," she thought. "It has no fur to keep it warm! I will give it mine, and I will lullaby-purr it to sleep."
A little jump brought the kitten into the manger where the baby lay. There, she quietly gave her humble gift of warmth and love, gently stretching out her thin, fragile little body over the baby's, careful to cover all but the infant's face. The crying was soon replaced by soft purrs and coos, and slowly, the infant smiled.
As Mary, the new mother, witnessed this gift to her child, she touched the little cat's forehead.
"Thank you, Little Tabby, for your gift of love and warmth. As a sign of my grateful blessing, you and all your descendents will forevermore carry my initial on your forehead."
And to this day, tabby cats are known by the remarkable "M" on their foreheads, and by their extraordinary gifts of love, so gently given.

HAPPY HOLIDAY from all of us at Fox Valley Cat Clinic to all of you!
I thank you all  for your patronage in 2013
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Iams Pet Food Recall

Iams is calling it a "limited" recall. My experience is this is how most recalls start.  I will be watching closely to see if this recall expands over the next few weeks or months.

My recommendations to you  is to stop feeding an exclusively Iams diet to your cat until we are given more information. 

Here is a link for the lot numbers that are being recalled. Iams Recall Information.

 Remember that stores ARE NOT obligated to remove ALL Iams products from their shelves, even though there is a chance this recall could be EXPANDED over time. 

Please share this information as MANY people feed Iams products.  This has the potential for being a very large recall.....

Feed safe -rotate your cat's food choices.  Want to read more on how to feed your cat safely in the world of pet food recalls?  How to feed your cat with safety in mind

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Emergency or Evacuation -how to keep your cat SAFE!

With the sudden and violent storm last night, and with a large percentage of the Fox Valley being without power (including the Fox Valley Cat Clinic), I thought I would share some thoughts about planning ahead for an emergency -be it a tree falling on your roof, a flood affecting your neighborhood, a tornado hitting in your city, or a long term power outage across the Valley ….
  • Planning ahead, before a crisis hits, is the KEY. Know where you can go and how you will get there. Make sure your cats are welcome or that you have an alternative location in which to house them.
  • If you have to evacuate your home, always take your cats with you. Even if you believe you’ll only be gone for a short time, don’t ever leave your cats behind.
  • Prepare an evacuation kit ahead of time.  To help you with this, refer to the AVMA booklet "Saving the Whole Family" on   when an emergency hits.
  • Prepare a first aid kit, and travel with it if you travel with your cat. Again, refer to
  •  "Saving the Whole Family".    Remember that in many parts of northern Wisconsin, veterinary care is difficult to find, especially on a weekend.
  • Be sure your cat has Identification. This identification should include rabies and license tags. Forms of ID for cats include tags (with your name, address, and telephone number engraved) and microchips. Ideally, your cat will have both an identification tag and a microchip.  Many emergency shelters will accept pets, but only with documented proof of vaccinations, and an appropriately sized carrier.
  • Include your cat’s medical records and other important documents (licenses, etc.) in your evacuation kit.  If your cat is on medication, consider including several days worth of medication in your kit.
  • Be sure you have a carrier available to transport and, if necessary, large enough to house each of your cats comfortably.
These are just a few of the more important suggestions provided in the AVMA booklet
  "Saving the Whole Family"Remember that if your power is out, medical records including rabies certificates may not be available from your veterinary clinic because they may be affected by the same emergency that may be city wide, or county wide or even larger. 

Please share this information with you pet loving friends.  Together, we can make the world safer for pets!

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic
Menasha, WI

Monday, August 5, 2013

The View From My Side of the Table

Understanding CAT BODY LANGUAGE is essential in my line of work.  As you can imagine,  if I
read a cat wrong, someone could get hurt.   I need to know when your cat is relaxed enough for me to begin my examination, or take an radiograph, or draw a blood sample.  Here are some of my secrets.

  If your cat is rubbing on my leg while I am chatting with you , it is an all-clear signal "you may pick me up now."

 If your cat is walking around the room with their tail pointing toward the ceiling, I am being told, "I am comfortable, and it is OK to handle me now."

If your cat is purring, it does not necessarily mean they are happy.  Cats will purr when happy, scared or in pain, but a purring cat will rarely act aggressively.

Growling comes in many different flavors.  Some cats are giving me a warning, some cats are out of their comfort zone and just scared, and some cats mean "DO NOT reach for me".   Usually I can
differentiate these guys by their body language.

Facial rubbing and head butting is my favorite exam room behavior -it means that I am recognized and accepted as a friend.

The "flop on their side and expose the  belly" cat is also a favorite of mine.  However, I don't want to touch the belly as most cats see this as a breech of trust.  I scratch under the chin and behind the ears -a more generally accepted form of attention.

Flattened ears should never be ignored. These cats are SCARED, and need quiet calming from their owners.  Once the ears are upright, I will slowly proceed with quiet and gentle handling.

Yawning can be a sign of  stress.  Rarely are cats tired in the exam room, but I see a lot of yawning -this indicates that they are nervous and under stress. 

Feliway, a spray product that mimics facial pheremones, and that helps many cats relax -can be used
at home as a way to decrease the stress associated with going to the vet.  Feliway is now available in a wipe.  Used inside the carrier about 10 minutes before you are ready to cage your cat, the Feliway Wipe with act in a natural way to allow your cat to become calm before travel.   I use Feliway on my exam towels.  Some of my patients will only relax when covered with a towel.  We spray these exam towels with Feliway before the appointment.  Feliway makes a BIG difference in some of my patients stress levels.

Learning to read the body language of your cat will help you to understand what they are saying to you.  Cats CAN talk, just not with words, but with actions! 

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Friday, June 14, 2013

Jack Sprat's Cat

Murphy's law states that if you have more than one cat (and don't we all?) then one cat will be thin and one cat will be fat.  But, how should you deal with this dilemma at feeding time?   The myth that one food is appropriate for both of these cats as in "multicat" food defies logic.  If it were that simple,  40% of my patients would NOT be overweight.   But, here are some innovative ideas that might help you to  help your cats!

Convert your feeding style from a shared free choice food bowl to feeding 2 or 3 times a day in MEALS.  Once the meal is done, the food goes away.    This discourages the cat that likes to overeat when there is nothing else to do.  It also allows you to feed the cats in separate rooms with a door between the fat cat and the skinny cat.  With this plan, you can feed each cat an appropriate food for their size.  This  will also allow skinny cat to eat at leisure and fat cat to cool his heels after the meal is gone. 

If you are concerned that skinny cat needs food out all the time to graze on, then try placing skinny cats food in an elevated location -like the top of the refrigerator- where fat cat can not physically access. 

Or, you can "build" a feeding box that has a skinny cat silhouette as a door, so fat cat can not enter.  This allows skinny cat to go in and out of the feeding box to graze whenever he wants.
 DIY Cat Feeding Box

It is sometimes hard to motivate a fat cat  to exercise.  Try playing "catch the kibble" at mealtime.  Toss one piece of food (from the meal portion) at a time down a hallway or stairway.  This is a fun game for fat cat as well as skinny cat, and will burn calories too.

There are some really COOL interactive feeding toys available for purchase.  This will challenge your cat, give them more of a hunting experience, and slow their eating down -all of which are beneficial  to both skinny cat and fat cat.

Select a low-carbohydrate food for weight loss, as a high protein food will increase energy expenditure.  (i.e.-carbs make cats sleepy, protein makes them more energetic).  See my previous blog on the importance of feeding high protein foods to cats:  Be Savy about your Cats Nutrition

If you are considering a weight loss program for your fat cat -please consult your veterinarian.  Fat cats are at risk for a liver condition called Hepatic Lipidosis, if they do not eat a certain number of calories per day.  The rule of thumb is a cat should never lose more than 1/2 lb per month, while dieting.  More weight loss would increase the risk of Hepatic Lipidosis in your cat.  How do you measure?   A scale and a written  record of bi weekly weight checks are very important.  Sharing this information with your cats veterinarian with allow them to be a partner in your cats weight loss program. 

As always, thanks for sharing this information with your cat loving friends.  Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

5 Reasons to Flip the Lip

If there was one thing that you could do- only once a month- that could prevent your cat from suffering constant pain, would you do it?  That is a silly question, right?  OK, here's the challenge.  It involves flipping up the lips, and taking a look at what is hiding behind the lips.  What I hope you see are shiny white amazingly healthy teeth and pink gums. But....

Here are 5 reasons why you should be FLIPPING the LIP :

DENTAL disease is COMMON in cats of any age.  A cat as young as 6 months old can suffer from red swollen painful gums.  This condition is called gingivitis and is reversible if caught early in its progression to periodontal disease.  Do you notice a smell from your cats mouth? -this is often the first sign that infection is starting below the gum line.  Mouth smell (or hallitosis) usually equals infection in a cat.  And infection equals pain.

You don't KNOW if there is a problem  unless you look!  Teeth crack, teeth fall out, teeth abscess, gums bleed, gums swell, gums become inflammed.  ALL of this happens behind the lips, where you can not easily see.  Your cat does not brush or floss daily.  So, very slowly plaque and tartar and infection will begin to develop... it is just a matter of time....Your cat should get an annual physical exam, but what about the other 11 months of the year?  Flip the Lip.

YOUR cat is NEVER too old to benefit from dental care.        Most cats by the time they are six years old would benefit from a teeth cleaning, which requires anesthesia. But as a cat ages, dental health becomes even more important.  Infection in the mouth can be transported thru the blood stream to major organs, like the kidneys or the  heart. As your cat ages, it is vital to prevent this from happening, by keeping their mouth disease free.

CATS don't stop eating if they have a tooth ache.  Even with tooth pain, your cat will still be hungry and will eat.  They may only chew on one side of their mouth.  They may swallow their food whole.  But, don't use eating as a sign that your cat is pain-free.  You need to be a dental detective!

CATS don't show pain with a tooth ache.    It is a fact that a painful cat does not cry or vocalize at all.  A painful cat may become less interactive, may hide, or may stop playing, or may appear perfectly normal to you.  So, this makes it very challenging to tell if your cat's mouth hurts.  Assume they WON'T tell you it hurts -you need to flip the lip and look for changes, redness or smell. 

Your cat deserves the very best care.  And as an owner, you are on the front line, so flip the lip at least monthly, for your cat's sake. They will LOVE you for it (if you follow a lip flip with a treat!)

As always. please feel free to share this information with your cat loving friends.
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic
Menasha, Wisconsin

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hunter dodges Nerf Bullet

No one knows why some cats eat foreign material. Things like silk plants, crayons, kids plastic toys, and ribbons don't taste good but of course they are fun to play with and chew on, and without an opposable thumb, things get swallowed.     My own cat, Pipsqueak, used to chew on, and occasionally ingest the spiral part of phone cords (this was before cell phones were invented).  I have a client who now keeps her hair scrunchies under lock and key (after hair scrunchie surgical removal last year).    In my career as a veterinarian, I have surgically removed many interesting items -or  "Foreign Bodies." from the GI tract of dogs and cats.     The list includes a barbie doll head, a cassette tape, a plastic dinosaur, sparkle balls, a sewing needle, and several phone cord spirals.

Recently, I saw a patient with a history of eating  NERF BULLETS.   The kids in the house thought this was great fun when the cat would chase and chew on the soft spongy bullets.  They would occasionally find a nerf bullet in the litter box, and never thought much of this, until last week, when Hunter was vomiting, had a painful belly,  and was not interested in his food.

The good news for Hunter and his family is that he did not need surgery (this time).  His body was again able to pass the bullet.  The really  important lesson is this:  just because a foreign body passes one time, does not mean that it will EVERY TIME. If you see foreign material passing in your cats stool, remove the offending item from your house. ( I've been assured that the nerf bullets  and gun are now being kept at grandma's house.) 

We may not understand why certain cats chose to swallow things that are not food.  We DO KNOW that if you have a cat that fits this description, expect them to be a  REPEAT OFFENDER!  Any cat toy small enough to be swallowed should be removed from the home.  Any toy with chewable parts (like eyeballs, or tails) or ribbons that dangle should be avoided. A good rule of thumb is that any toy smaller than a quarter is a FOREIGN BODY WAITING TO HAPPEN for a cat.  Most cat toys are safe, but not all.  And many things that our cats play with are not really cat toys to being with. 

 Hoping that all your cats are able to "dodge" the foreign body bullet, like Hunter did!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MRSA and your cat...

I fielded a question from a client this week about MRSA and cats.  As many of you know, MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.  MRSA is considered a zoonotic disease.

A zoonosis (pron.: /ˌz.əˈnsɨs/) (also spelled zoönosis) is an infectious disease that is transmitted between species (sometimes by a vector) from animals other than humans to humans or from humans to other animals (the latter is sometimes called reverse zoonosis or anthroponosis). (Wikipedia)

With the recent Salmonella contamination of many of our pet foods and human foods  in the last year (spinach, tomatoes, peanut butter....) I thought it would be a good idea to share a web page that is one of my favorite sources for information about specific diseases that both people and pets can share (ie zoonotic diseases).  

This web page blog contains well researched information sheets for pet owners on each specific disease such as:  MRSA, Salmonella, Giardia, Rabies, Toxoplasmosis, Cat bites and more.  For each disease, they divide the disease risk into 2 catagories:  Healthy Adult/ Older Children and Young Children/ Immunocompromised persons.

 Here's the link:

Worms and Germs Blog is supported by the Ontario Veterinary College's Center for Public Health and Zoonoses.  Please trust this site for fact based information pertaining to safe pet ownership -not just with cats, but the many different species of animals we chose to share our lives with.  We love our pets, but it is good to remember that we can share more than love....

The internet is a powerful tool for knowledge -but sometimes it is not easy to know what to believe.  I hope you find WORMS and GERMS as valuable as I do.  As always, if you found this information helpful, please share with other cat lovers.

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Salmonella found in Evo and Innova

Every week it seems there is another pet food recall.  This week it is Natura Pet Food.  They make brands like Evo and Innova.  These are brands that I consider excellent quality, and I know many of my clients feed them.   As I discuss daily with my clients, in this day and age, no pet food brand is safe from recalls.  All we can do as pet owners is be wary, and vigilant, and ROTATE BRANDS to minimize the effects a recall will have on your cat.

Salmonella is a zoonotic disease -a disease that people can get from animals -and in this case,  also by handling pet food. It should be a reminder to all of us to wash our hands carefully after preparing our pets food. And to prevent young  children from ever  handling pet foods.    Diseases like Salmonella are most dangerous to children and also immune compromised individuals.

Here is a link to more specific information, and  the specific production lots that are being recalled:

As always, please share this information with other cat owners.  It could save a life.
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Monday, March 11, 2013

Diamond Kitten Food Recall -Low Vitamin B1 levels

Another recall, folks.  This just happened over the weekend.  Diamond Pet Foods are recalling their dry kitten formulas (see link for product codes) due to a low vitamin B1 level.  This vitamin is essential for healthy growth, and is VITAL for kittens.  Please pass this information on to ANYONE who is feeding kittens! 
Follow this link for more information:  Diamond Kitten Food recall.

Happy Monday!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Food Recall Alert

This week, Nature's Variety has announced a recall of several batches of their Frozen Raw Chicken Diet -Please follow the link for specific batch numbers and more information
Current Food Recall

As always, safety first.
Dr. Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My thoughts on Trap, Neuter and Release

Trap-Neuter-Release, or TNR is happening in the Fox Valley. It is one approach to addressing the explosion of stray cats in our area, and all across Wisconsin and the country. 

Why is TNR important?    Stray cats are everywhere. You don't have to look beyond your back yard to see stray cats.  In rural areas,  it is an ever present problem. And many of these cats are feral- they have been born in the "wild" and have never been handled, and so are more like wild animals than domesticated pets. They starve, they are hunted,  they are shot, they are trapped, they get sick, suffer and die. They need our help to stop reproducing, and eventually this will help to solve the overpopulation.

Who is involved?  Cat lovers (like you!) volunteer their time  to  trap, transport, identify and document, tranquilize, perform surgical prep, vaccinate, deworm,  anesthetize, neuter/spay, monitor recovery, and release.  There are volunteer opportunities even if you don't have experience in this type of work.  Trained veterinary volunteers perform the "technical" duties, but most of the pre- and post- surgery work is done by lay-people. 

Where can you find a TNR group nearby?
 Cats Anonymous is located in Green Bay: 
 Wish TNR is located in Neenah:                                                         Fox Valley Humane is located outside of Appleton:

How can you help?  Consider giving of your time.  It's a fun way to spend time doing good, surrounded by like-minded cat fanciers.  Or donate money.  All of these TNR groups function on donations only.  Although everyone volunteers their time, drugs and supplies and equipment are expensive.  Donate supplies. Become a "Colony Caretaker".   Talk to someone you know that has a colony of cats that need spaying/neutering.  Spread the word about the advantages of TNR.  Attend a fund-raiser for a TNR group.

I have volunteered with Cats Anonymous several times in 2012,, and found it very rewarding.  I have met some great people through CA.   They are a great organization with an amazingly committed group of people from all walks of life.   We join together with one goal in mind -giving feral cats the help they need.
 I will be helping out in 2013, will you?

If you found my blog interesting, please feel free to "Share" it with others.
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic LLC

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Be SAVVY about your cat's nutrition

I encourage my clients to  ask me questions about their cat's food because, as a consumer, making healthy choices  is not easy.  However,  it is SO very important to your cat.   Your cat DEPENDS on you for good quality nutritious food -and NOT ALL food on the market fits into this catagory. 

 Very few of the pet food manufacturers put useful information on their label.  The most important information, aside from the ingredient list, is calorie count.  How many calories are in each 8 oz cup or 5.5 oz can of your cat's  food?  The average 10# indoor  cat should be fed 200-250 kcal per day.  Without knowing how many calories are in the food you feed, you do not know how much to feed daily.  And PLEASE do not trust the chart on the bag that tells you how much to feed your cat!  These charts always encourage overfeeding!  (It is a sad fact that pet food companies are more concerned about the bottom line, than the health of your cat.)

 As many of you know, part of my annual exam appointment  includes a discussion of nutrition and  healthy choices, we calculate how many calories to feed , and the amount to feed based on YOUR food choices.  I do this because I am convinced that the way to keep your cat  healthy is by making healthy choices.  I also carry a variety of wellness diets in my practice that I have researched and feel comfortable recommending.  These are foods that I feed my own cats.  I know that many of you don't have time or the desire to do the necessary nutritional research before you chose your cat's food.   I have the calories per cup or can clearly posted on my shelves.  My staff can advise you on how much to feed to maintain a healthy weight.  I have recently posted the  percentages of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in these canned wellness foods.  Again, this information is not found on the label (without doing the math), but it is SO important.

I recommend looking for a food that is at least  40% protein, whether you are feeding canned or dry food.  Watch the carbohydrate percentage -cats should not be getting more than 25% of their diet as carbs (and some nutritionists think that even this is too high.).  The first ingredient in your cat food MUST BE meat based protein, or DO NOT FEED IT.  I recently had a client bring a bag of Science Diet dry food in for me to evaluate, and I was shocked to see the first two ingredients were rice and corn.  Remember that companies change their ingredient list AT WILL.  They are not required to change the label or notify their customers in any way -so ALWAYS read the label with every purchase. And a reputable name brand does not ensure quality ingredients. 

Lastly,  evaluate the water content in your chosen canned food.  Water in canned food should be around 75-78%, and this is plainly marked on the label .  If the water content is 78%, then you are paying for 22% food.  Water is a great addition to canned food,  but you can always add more water before serving .   I have seen some quality canned foods as high as 87 1/2% water -so your cat is only getting 12 1/2% food.    If the water content is high, the calorie count is usually lower, but the PRICE MAY STILL BE HIGH -so READ THE LABEL.

The internet can be your friend, if you are wanting more facts about the food you feed your feline friend.  Or, feel free to bring your cat food bag/can in with your next annual exam.  We will be happy to do the research for you!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic