Thursday, December 11, 2014

Alleviate Holiday Stress for your Family Felines

With Christmas just a few weeks away, life can be crazy in December.  As special as Christmas is, this
season is also filled with lists and errands and company and chaos.  Lets consider this time of year from your cats point of view:  favorite furniture moved to make room for a tree, bright lights flashing, scented candles, strangers visiting, doorbells ringing, things out of place -WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE!

Help your cats survive the holidays.   Start with Feliway!  Feliway is an amazing product specifically made to manage feline stress.  If you have not used it, you owe it to your cat to have some on hand for stressful times (like the holidays!). 

Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.  By mimicking the cat’s natural facial pheromones, Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat's local environment.
As a result, Feliway can be used to help comfort and reassure cats while they cope with a challenging situation and help prevent or reduce the stress caused by  changes in their environment.  FAQ about Feliway

I recommend Feliway for a variety of stressful situations:  travel (to the vet), new baby, remodeling, moving, new pet, and especially holidays.  It also works well in the treatment of territorial aggression and urine marking. It is simple to use, and will really make a difference in your cats happiness!

 ** Create safe zones  in your house so that when your cat is stressed, they can "hide" in the safe zone, where there is no chaos and minimal noise.   This is as simple as adding several cardboard boxes under the bed or in a quiet closet.
 ** Offering food and water dishes in multiple locations will eliminate the need for kitty to venture into the chaos of the holiday spirit if they are hungry.       **Remember to add "play with the cat" and "groom the cat" to your holiday list of daily tasks.

Stress and anxiety can lead to medical issues like cystitis, loss of appetite, dehydration.  Being aware of how much your cat is eating and drinking daily is valuable information during stressful situations.   Any changes should be closely watched and reported to your veterinarian.

The holidays are a special time for many of us.  Finding quiet time for your felines will allow them to adapt to the temporary craziness in their house, and will also help you relax and enjoy the little things that you love so much about having a pet.
 Happy Holidays to both you and your feline friends from my family and felines.  Stay warm, travel safely, and remember the Feliway!

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What is Happeing to Bentley?

Below is an article that I found very informative.  I think you will too!  Dr. Flatley

Dog under Ebola watch gets High-Level Caretakers

Photo courtesy of Dallas Animal Services
Dallas city officials promised to take care of Bentley while his owner, Nina Pham, is being treated for Ebola infection. Although almost nothing is known about the role of dogs in the transmission of the Ebola virus, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is in quarantine on the chance that he could pass on the virus.“When he goes home happy and healthy,” Davis said, “then people can see it’s not a big deal.
Bentley, the spaniel belonging to Ebola patient Nina Pham, is living in a former military commander’s house on an inactive naval air field in Dallas, tended two to three times a day by a team of veterinarians from Texas A&M University, including an expert in infectious diseases with experience in Ebola research.

As the pet of the first person to contract Ebola in the United States, Bentley is the focus of special attention. No one knows whether dogs can get sick from or transmit the Ebola virus to people. How officials handle the unknown risk is under public scrutiny in light of an unpopular decision by the government of Madrid earlier this month to euthanize the dog of a sick nurse in Spain.

The city of Dallas pledged a different approach with Pham’s dog, a 1-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel. “As our brave health-care worker told us, this dog is a significant part of her life, and we vowed to her family we would do everything in our power to care for her beloved pet,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a press release last week.

Pham became infected with Ebola as a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, who caught the disease in his native Liberia shortly before visiting the United States. Duncan died on Oct. 8.

Since then, an ever-widening circle of people may have been exposed to Ebola by other members of Duncan’s medical team. The prospect of monitoring a growing population raises a host of logistical questions, including the safest and smartest way to care for the pets of Ebola patients. The problem is that almost nothing is known about Ebola’s effects, if any, on companion animals.

Dr. Radford Davis, an associate professor of public health at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and an authority on diseases that transmit between people and other animals, doubts many other pets would command the same attention as Bentley.

“If you have a dog and you come down with Ebola, and now it’s going to high-containment quarantine like they’re doing in Texas, that’s a big deal,” Davis said. “It’s a lot of money; a lot of effort. How many people are they going to do that for? How many dogs?”

A group of veterinary infectious and zoonotic disease experts coordinated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Veterinary Medical Association is working on guidelines for Ebola quarantines of pets, chiefly dogs and cats.

There is no evidence that dogs and cats are capable of transmitting Ebola virus. At the same time, there’s no definitive evidence that they can’t. For that reason, “While it’s very unlikely they are a realistic source of infection, prudence dictates that we consider it possible until we know that it isn’t,” said Dr. J. Scott Weese, a member of the group developing the guidelines. Weese is chief of infection control at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College and Canada Research Chair in zoonotic diseases.

While a variety of details in the guidance remain to be hashed out, Weese said he expects that general-practice veterinarians with private clinics won’t be called upon to care for animals under an Ebola watch.

“I don’t think most practices have the facilities or the time, and there’s an expense. I’m not sure who’s going to pay for it,” Weese said. “From a business standpoint, most vets probably are not going to want their clients worrying about Ebola in their clinic.”

The likelier scenario, he said, is that animals needing to be monitored would be put in the care of institutions that have facilities dedicated to infection control. “Mostly, I suspect it will be university settings or temporary facilities,” Weese said. “You don’t need a fancy facility. You just need a secure facility away from other people and animals. You need an area that’s secure on multiple levels. One in which you can humanely take care of the animals, and with areas for taking on and off protective equipment. …

“Once you start sketching out how you do it, you realize how complex it is,” he said.

Major mobilization for Bentley

In Dallas, the city, county, state and private funders are contributing to the cost of Bentley’s care, according to C.C. Gonzalez-Kurz, a city spokeswoman. “The process of his care has not been completed and is very fluid, so a total cost is unknown at this time,” she said late last week.

Photo courtesy of Dallas Animal Services
Bentley was removed from his home in an apartment building on Oct. 13 by hazardous-material-cleanup contractors, and transported in a city animal control truck to Hensley Field, an inactive military site owned by the city of Dallas.
Dr. Catherine “Cate” McManus, director of operations at Dallas Animal Services, is coordinating Bentley’s veterinary care, although the city won’t allow her to handle the dog or enter the building where he’s kept, to her disappointment. The city’s concern is “just the unknown,” she said in an interview.

With a master’s degree in public health, board certification in preventive medicine, experience as a veterinary epidemiologist in Virginia, and service in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, McManus is undaunted by her role in the Ebola crisis.

Bentley’s owner was admitted to the hospital on Oct. 11, a Saturday; her dog was taken out of her home two days later. Leading up to the move, McManus said, “There were a lot of decisions and communications going on between the city, state and federal government about how to move him, where to move him to and how we’re going to handle him for the 21-day quarantine.”

McManus would have liked to keep him in his home, but that wasn’t possible because it is an apartment building. “Our mission (that) Monday morning was finding a place for him to go,” she recounted. “We were trying to think of city resources, and what I’ve typically done with disaster response is use an old warehouse.”

Officials settled upon Naval Air Station Dallas, also known as Hensley Field, city property that once served as a training site for reserve pilots. “We saw these houses, and we were like, ‘Well, what about the house?’ ” McManus said, referring to commander and executive officer residences. She said the homes are “beautiful” and weren’t in use.

The house they chose lends itself to being partitioned into zones. The “hot” zone where Bentley is kept is the kitchen. The adjacent dining room is the “warm” zone where handlers don and doff personal protective equipment.

“We tarped everything down, really to protect the floors more than anything, and set up two crates,” McManus said. “We have one crate that’s ready for him, and when we go to clean, we shift him into the clean crate, to try to have as minimal handling as possible.”

Trying not to touch the playful, fluffy, tan-and-white dog is hard, she said, because “he’s so darned cute.”

The people directly caring for Bentley come from Texas A&M University, led by Dr. Tammy Beckham, director of the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases. According to her biography, Beckham is a former U.S. Army captain who served at the Army’s Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Maryland, where she worked with Ebola and related viruses. She also served as a director of the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York.

Also on Bentley’s case is the university’s Veterinary Emergency Team, which describes itself as “the largest and most sophisticated veterinary medical disaster response team in the country.” 

Photo courtesy of Dallas Animal Services
Veterinarians in protective garb feed, clean up after and visit with Bentley two to three times a day. Dallas Animal Services posts frequent updates about Bentley on its Facebook page.
The veterinarians play with Bentley as best they can. One of many photos of Bentley posted on Dallas Animals Services’ Facebook page shows someone in a biohazard suit, with face mask and gloves, holding out a green ball to the little dog. Another shows the dog snuggled against Beckham.

“He has been petted and played with squeaky toys,” McManus reported. His appetite is good, he’s got a radio tuned to a classical-music station and the care team is aiming to rig a bigger crate for him, she added. “Fortunately, he’s a good dog and is easy to take care of.”

To monitor his health, the team hasn’t been taking his temperature daily, just watching his behavior and making sure he eats, drinks and relieves himself regularly, she said.

On Sunday, the city announced that starting today and for the remainder of his quarantine, Bentley's urine and feces will be collected three times for testing. “This is the least invasive and safest way to conduct the testing process for Bentley,” a press release states.

Very little known about Ebola in pets

Although the purpose of quarantining Bentley is to watch for signs of Ebola, no one knows what those are in a dog.

Only one scientific study has focused on Ebola in dogs. In that study, published in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2005, African and French researchers observed that during an outbreak in Gabon in 2001 and 2002, some dogs fed on the carcasses of infected animals. Analyzing dogs from the affected area, the researchers found antibodies in the blood of about 25 percent of the animals, but not the virus itself.

Weese, the infectious and zoonotic disease expert from Ontario Veterinary College, noted recently in an article in Clinician’s Brief, “This situation is profoundly different than that of a household pet with transient exposure to a human that has been exposed or has early infection.”

The findings indicate that dogs have an immune response to Ebola but whether the virus may cause clinical illness in dogs is unknown. It’s also unknown whether an exposed dog that’s not sick can transmit the virus to people. Weese said he thinks it unlikely.

Still, there are pathogens that pets showing no signs of distress may still transmit to people. Examples are Salmonella and the fungus that causes ringworm.

The lack of knowledge about Ebola and pets doesn’t give decision-makers much to go on, so they need to be cautious, said Weese. “We have a limited concern that dogs are a source. We can’t say no, so we have to say maybe,” he said.

With cats, the picture is murkier still. No one has studied cats and Ebola.

The host of unknowns makes Ebola particularly fearsome, even compared with a nearly 100-percent-lethal disease such as rabies. Rabies looks manageable compared with Ebola because vaccines exist and it’s possible to prevent infection in an exposed person with quick action.

Moreover, Weese pointed out: “We know how rabies is transmitted: a bite or scratch (allowing) inoculation of infected saliva into the body. We know when rabies-infected animals can transmit the virus. With Ebola, we don’t know if dogs can shed the virus, if they are always clinically ill when shedding the virus, whether there’s a risk of aerosol transmission and (what are) optimal infection control practices.”

But Ebola isn’t indomitable. Weese describes it as a “wimpy enveloped virus.” The envelope is an outer fatty layer that’s susceptible to damage when exposed to the open air or in contact with disinfectant.

Non-enveloped viruses are much hardier, resistant to heat, acids and drying, and able to remain infective even after drying. An example is norovirus, the very contagious pathogen that causes stomach and intestinal upset. Weese said norovirus can survive for a week outside the body.

Ebola also doesn’t appear to affect a wide variety of species — mainly bats, humans and some non-human primates. “If it was found in a lot of species, we’d have a lot more concerns about dogs,” Weese said.

While keeping Ebola-exposed pets in quarantine could be an opportunity to learn more about how the virus behaves in companion animals, Weese said regularly examining animals in confinement could be problematic. “You don’t want to get bitten or scratched,” he explained. “The goal is minimizing exposure. … If the animal’s sick and we need to draw blood, it’s going to be (with the animal) under anesthesia.”

Considering all the unknowns about pets and Ebola, Davis, the public health professor at Iowa State, said quarantine protocols will be based on extrapolating from what we know in humans. For example, the 21-day confinement period comes from the incubation period of the virus in people. That may or may not be the same in dogs and cats, assuming there’s an incubation period at all.

“The guidelines are going to have to walk the line between what the evidence shows and what’s prudent and not burdensome,” Davis said.

One aspect to consider, Weese said, is how to prevent the need for a pet’s quarantine at all. Pet owners who are being monitored but aren’t sick might consider having someone else care for their pets, if possible, until their own quarantine is over, he suggested. That way, were an owner to become ill, the pet won’t have been exposed and won’t need to be confined.

Believing the risk of dogs transmitting Ebola to be exceedingly small, Davis said he looks forward to the day that Bentley is released. He will have been in quarantine for 21 days on Nov. 3.

 October 20, 2014
By: Edie Lau
  Copied from The Veterinary Information Network News Service

Thursday, October 16, 2014


A new book, recently released by Animal Planet's Jackson Galaxy, is called Catification. I havn't read the book, but did listen to the "My Cat From Hell" star discussing what he terms CATifying your home.  It is not a new concept.  It it commonly called "adding vertical space" to your home.  And it is a recommendation that I commonly make when doing a Behavior Consultation involving aggression problems between cats in the same family.
Mr. Galaxy talks about adding a super highway above floor level so that felines can get from here to there without interacting with too-active dogs, too-inquisitive toddlers and too-scary visitors.  But this vertical space also allows Miss Shy more control over her interactions with Mr. Toughguy.  Miss Shy can chose to perch above the chaos that we call LIFE, watching it all from the safety of her six foot high perch or shelf or overlook.
One of my cats is a shy cat.  Her name is Posie ( a Neenah Shelter rescue)  that is frightened by just about anything but absolute silence.  She can be found "above ground level" 95% of her day.  Vertical space allows her to adapt to a household with 2 other cats and 2 dogs. 
You may have a cat with similar anxieties.  Many cats without "vertical space" chose to hide under the bed, or in the basement.  Consider CATifying one room in your home  or your whole house and see how the cats respond.  Be creative!  Better yet, send us photos of your CATifying project that we can share on facebook so that we can share the CATtification!

Oh, and the new book, Catification,  may be a great Christmas gift for the cat lover in your life!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Second Opinions are not just for people

In the last few weeks I have seen quite a few second opinion appointments, and met some very
devoted cat owners.

One gal has a handsome 5 year old cat who was diagnosed with sudden onset of  renal failure and given a very poor prognosis.   She was not prepared to give up, and was searching for more options.

One couple have a very sweet middle aged cat that was having a hard time jumping up and had a weak back end, and was told she was arthritic, but they were not comfortable with this diagnosis, and wanted further testing.

And I met a very concerned couple with quite a sick cat. She was not getting better after several weeks of medical care, and they wanted to pursue other treatment options.

 This got me to thinking about when and why people reach out for a second opinion.   Where do you turn?   Who can you trust?    When do you get a second opinion?

 Please remember:

Feel comfortable about getting a second opinion!  You will not be hurting anyone's feelings or ego by doing this. Second opinions are well accepted in this time of  progressive veterinary medicine.   Remember, getting your pet better should be  EVERYONE'S goal.

Research your options.  Many clinics may refer you to a local 24 hour emergency facility only.  But that does not mean you can't explore other options.  Many private clinics "specialize" in certain types of medicine or certain species or alternative therapies.

Consider alternative treatments for common problems, if you are uncomfortable with the options you are currently being offered.  If surgery is the only option you are being give, perhaps there are non-surgical options available at another clinic. Make some phone calls.  Clinics are happy to discuss their services by phone.

Ask questions.  You can never ask too many questions!  

Your pet's radiographs, lab results and ultrasounds  may be  digital, and easy to send by email or on a CD disk.  Be sure you transfer this information along with a copy of your pets medical record.

Expect a second opinion appointment to take 45 minutes or longer, especially in a complex case.

And Don't:

Don't feel you are locked in to this second opinion.  You are just researching your options.  The final treatment decision is yours alone.

Don't scrimp on testing.  Second opinions should ALWAYS include a thorough physical examination, and probably repeat testing as well.  Things change over time, and trends in lab work or radiographs are often very important information.

Be careful of the internet.  "Dr. Google"  is not a legitimate second opinion!

And if you want an update of my 3 patients... 
 My renal failure case is eating well, gaining weight, taking his medication well,  finished with his acupuncture treatments and is back to  playing with his housemate buddy!
My arthritic case ended up having an enlarged spleen, is under medical treatment (both western and Chinese herbal medication) , and feeling good again, jumping and running and acting her playful self
My sick patient has finished her medication, her fever is gone, and her appetite is finally back to normal.  

Please share this is you know someone that is considering a second opinion.

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Purina vs Blue -who is telling the TRUTH?

This week a client brought to my attention a law suit between Purina and Blue disputing the claims made by one company about the ingredients used by the other company.  Basically a"he said- she said" scenario.  OK I admit, this piqued my interest, so I googled for more information. 

As I followed the lawsuit story deeper, I came upon a webpage called Truth About Petfood.  It discussed  the need for TRANSPARENCY  by petfood companies (gee, what a great idea!).

 To date, the only assurance to actual quality/grade of ingredients pet food consumers have is the Pledge to Quality and Origin – a pet food transparency effort from their consumer group Association for Truth in Pet Food.  Pet food manufacturers can argue all they want through the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau, but the real truth in pet food lies in actual grade/quality of ingredients.  Are they pet grade or are they certified human grade?

 TRUTH is a word not usually  associated with pet food ingredients, so I needed to find out more.     The Pledge provides company name, address and website.  All ingredients in your pet foods/treats will be listed on the Pledge.  This includes all meats, organ meats, by-products, by-product meals, meat meals, fish, fish meals, oils, fats, grains, vegetables, fruits, flavorings, supplements, vitamins and minerals.  The quality information and origin information in provided in respective columns.  And the stated information will be signed by a CEO or President of the company as their Pledge.

 Here is the interesting part -there are currently only  22 companies that have signed the PLEDGE, and not one of them is a big name.  Not Science Diet.  Not Iams. Not Royal Canin.  Not Purina.  Not Nutro.  Not Blue.
Check it out for yourself:

I commend these 22 companies, and am going to look closer at their products and encourage you to do the same.  We as consumers need to make a stand about the importance of SAFETY, QUALITY and transparency in the petfoods on the market.  I want HEALTHY choices for my patients as well as my own pets, not just marketing hooey with nothing to back it up. 

Maureen Flatley, DVM
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I have a new tool in my toolbox! Acupuncture

I now have a tool in my veterinary toolbox to treat pain, and inflammation.  I am thrilled to report
that last Sunday, at Colorado State University,  I received my Certification in Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians!  It has been a four month intensive course that has challenged me in many ways, and taught me many new things.  

I have been searching  for a better  way to treat my chronic pain patients, and acupuncture will now allow me to achieve this.  You see,  cats do not respond well to Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS).  Many of the commonly used drugs like Advil and Tylenol are quite toxic to cats.  Many of the NSAIDS commonly used in dogs CAN NOT be used safely in cats.   And most medications for arthritis or pain have many unsafe long term side effects.   

And although cats are masters at hiding the pain of arthritis, research shows that ALL cats over 10 years of age are affected by some degree of arthritis.  Signs that you may notice at home are rabbit hopping up or down stairs, taking stairs one at a time, hesitating before jumping up or down -just to name a few.   But honestly, most people do not recognize ANY signs of pain in their geriatric kitties.   But the arthritis is still there.

Cats suffer from other types of pain as well -just like you and I.  A common condition is dental pain.  You know what I am talking about!    Dental pain HURTS!  Cats with dental pain eat more slowly, but they still eat!  Cats with dental pain sometimes have very tender painful necks, as their spinal nerves in this area are hyperactive.  Again, many of these painful cats show NO signs at all, so you really have watch closely to detect these subtle changes.

I have clients that ask if cats FEEL pain like we do.  The answer is a definite YES.  Cats have the same intricate nervous system as  humans.   But cats do not SHOW SIGNS of pain like we do.  In the animal world, it is a sign of weakness to show pain, and a weak animal is at a great disadvantage.   Look closely when your cat moves, sits, jumps and see if you can notice the subtle signs of pain.

So lets talk acupuncture.  Many cats actually relax and purr during their treatment.  Some cats will kneed or fall asleep with their needles in place .  I treated Peabody with some relaxation points, and he immediately started to drool (his sign of relaxation) and purr.  I plan on posting videos of a few of my treatments, so watch for these coming soon.  I am also testing a  therapeutic laser that can be used for NEEDLE-LESS acupuncture, for my patients that are needle-shy.  More on this later.

 So if I talk TOO much over the next few months about how excited I am to introduce these new modalities  into my practice, please forgive me for my enthusiasm.  On the other hand, if you WANT to talk acupuncture,  it is currently my new favorite subject. :)

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Beauty and Demodex are only skin deep

A litter of kittens was recently born in the basement of one of the local paper mills in  town .  I am not quite clear how the pregnant mom got inside the building , probably a kind-hearted soul that  brought her in from the Wisconsin winter. One of the kittens from the litter,  now a 12 week old kitten called Mittens, a fluffy black and white girl, was adopted by a New London family with two adult indoor cats, Cyrus and Grizz.   Here is where the story begins.  Cyrus and Grizz are pampered indoor family pets.  They live in a safe, healthy, controlled environment until now.  Enter Mittens….  an itchy stray kitten…

“Mittens” came in for her first wellness visit this week.
 Mittens, although cute, had a checkered past.  Born to a mom of questionable health, Mittens had acquired a highly contagious, although microscopic, skin parasite from her mama.   This parasite is called Demodex Gatoi.  (see picture for graphic depiction).  This skin parasite is smaller than the tip of a needle.   Demodex Gatoi is considered a fairly recent bug, having been first discovered and documented in 1981 in Finland.   Since then it has gradually become more prevalent in other countries, and is now considered a common cause of feline skin disease in the Southern United States, and I have seen several cases in my practice .   It  is not easily found on the skin or fur, because it lives and burrows deep into the keratin layer of the epidermis,  causing  itchy skin, and leading to severe inflammation and ulcerations.  And it is very contagious to other cats.

Luckily for Mittens, the owners brought a fresh stool sample in for analysis at their first appointment.  Now a stool sample is usually evaluated for parasites that live in the gastrointestinal tract, right?  So how did the skin mite end up in the stool, you ask???  (this is the cool part).  Remember that Mittens had been itchy.  Itchy cats chew at their skin.  Chewed hair  (including the mite that is hanging around under the skin) gets swallowed when cats chew their skin.  A skin mite that is swallowed has entered the  GI tract, and is waiting for the eyes of my skilled technician Kim to identify it (as she did  in Mitten's case) in a stool analysis.  

The spotlight is on Mittens and Demodex Gatoi  , but this story is really about the importance of a stool sample examination.  Preventative testing like a fecal analysis can be an invaluable diagnostic test, one that we strongly recommend for all cats on an annual basis.     Without  the foresight and concern of Mitten’s owner this contagious parasite  would have gone undiagnosed and Mittens, Grizz and Cyrus’s health would have been put at risk.    The take away lesson is that  important health information can be found in that smelly, not-to-fun to collect stool sample.  Bring one along on your cat's next wellness visit.  

If you are interested, here is more information about this fascinating feline specific skin parasite:  FELINE DEMODEX INFORMATION

As always, thanks for listening.

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic