Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In Memoriam: Missy - From Rescue Cat to In-Clinic Living

Manhattan Cat Specialists has some sad news to share. On Wednesday evening, May 13, our sweet, sassy hospital cat, Missy passed away. Since 2008, Missy had graced our clinic with her fiery tortoiseshell attitude, (“torti-tude”), greeting clients at the front desk with a teasing grin and a swipe of a paw after one pat on the head. As our staff biographies explained so well on our website, Missy’s bio stated “give her a pat and she’ll appreciate it; give her two and she’ll swat your hand away.” Even with her feistiness, though, Missy was a part of our clinic, and she learned to love us and trust us, and it never crossed our minds to give it a second thought to care for her as our own when she became our responsibility.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cats and the Veterinary Physical Exam - Twice a Year For Life

"Twice a Year For Life"

Take your feline friends to the veterinarian for semi-annual exams. 


            At our cat practice, we recommend that clients bring their cat in for evaluation every six months.  Most of our clients accept this without question, but some of our clients are puzzled by this.  “I always thought cats were supposed to be examined once a year”, they tell me.  I tell them that once a year is a minimum.  I really think twice a year is more appropriate for cats.  Here’s why:

            Cats are experts at hiding their clinical signs.  Evolutionarily, cats are programmed to hide signs of illness.  Predators instinctively look for the weakest or sickest animal to prey on, so cats do everything they can to pretend that they’re not sick, until they simply can’t hide it anymore.  By the time the cat reveals to the owner that the cat is sick, sometimes the illness has progressed too far to successfully treat. 

            In a previous blog post, I posted a chart comparing a cat’s age to a human’sage.  Early on in life, cats age relatively fast.  Once they hit adulthood, it’s a pretty steady progression, with each cat year approximating four human years.  Going to the veterinarian once every year would be the equivalent of a person going to the doctor every four years.  Going every six months would be the equivalent of going every two years, which is more reasonable.   I hate going to the doctor as much as anyone, and I delay it if I can, but even I will admit that going once every four years is too infrequent, and even every two years is still not often enough.  To illustrate my point, I’m going to use two real life examples, starring yours truly, and yours truly’s own cat, Crispy

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reader Question: What is causing my cat's chronic diarrhea?

Dear Dr. Plotnick,

My 16 year-old female cat has had chronic diarrhea for 2 years now amd our vet is stumped. She has gone from 7 lbs down to 5. She is also constantly hungry. Her water intake is normal. We feed her continually. She's had a blood test, an x-ray, and ultrasound, and everything is normal. We now have her on a high protein diet and it seems to be maintaining her weight now.  We're reluctant to do a biopsy because of her age. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Lois F.

 Dear Lois,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dr. Arnold Plotnick Now a Writer for Catster


As many of you know, in addition to my veterinary work, I also am a writer. I have this blog, Cat Man Do, and I am the former medical editor (and now frequent contributor) to Catnip magazine.  I was the Ask the Vet columnist for Cat Fancy for many years.  Sadly, Cat Fancy folded, and was replaced by a new magazine, 
Catster.

I am happy to report that I’ve just been offered (and I’ve accepted) a position with Catster as the writer of their new column, “Body Parts”.  This will be a fun, informative look at the different body parts of the cat - where they are located, what they are, what they do, why it’s important, and when do we know when something has gone wrong.  It sounds like a fun column, and I’m looking forward to it. 

I'll be certain to post updates when one of my articles gets published on Catster.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Response to the Story of the Vet that Shot a Cat with an Arrow

I feel I have to chime in about Kristen Lindsey, the Texas veterinarian who killed a feral cat by shooting an arrow into its head (warning, the graphic photo is shown), and then posting a sickening, graphic, brutal photo of it (which I will NOT post here) while gleefully bragging about what she had done. 

I am a cat veterinarian and well-known cat lover.  Cats are my life, personally and professionally.  When this story hit, it was appalling on so many levels that it really has taken me a few days to sort it all out.  Where does one even begin?

The first place this hits me is simply as a cat lover.   It pains me to hear about any kind of harm to any kind of cat.  I live with a cat, Crispy, who still bears the scars of an act of kittenhood cruelty, so I’m particularly sensitive to this.  Seeing a photo of a cat with an actual arrow in it is agonizing enough, but seeing the person who perpetrated this sick, obscene act in the very photo, right next to the poor cat, proudly smiling at the harm she has done amplifies the disgust 100-fold. 

The next place it hits me is as a veterinarian, because it is completely unfathomable that the murderer is a colleague.  It absolutely boggles the mind.  I’ve been reading some of the commentary that has sprung up in the aftermath of her brutal act.  Dr. Andy Roark, a well-known veterinarian, speaker, and columnist, posted a column about Dr. Lindsey’s “murderous boast”, saying that it’s a “black eye for vets”.  His concern is that a story like this is bound to affect the public’s perception of veterinarians as a whole, and that veterinarians are now going to have to work harder to rebuild our reputation.  I have read many of Dr. Roark’s columns and usually agree with everything he says and writes, but I respectfully disagree with him on this one.  I don’t think anyone in their right mind, upon reading this story, has come to the conclusion that veterinarians only pretend to like animals, and that what Dr. Lindsey did to that cat is how veterinarians really feel about them.   It reminds me of the spate of shootings years ago, perpetrated by U.S. Post Office workers.   At one point, there were so many shootings that the phrase “going postal” became part of the vernacular, as meaning “becoming enraged to the point of violence, usually in a workplace environment.”   It took years for postal workers to overcome this reputation.  No one uses the phrase “going postal” anymore, and if they do, it’s thought of as being corny or outdated.   If the killing of this cat was the third or fourth of a spate of pet killings perpetrated by veterinarians, then Dr. Roark’s fears would be justified.  But I think most people see this act for what it is – an isolated incident by a sociopath.  Our reputation of compassionate caregivers remains intact.

Another aspect of this entire incident bothers me in particular: the veterinarian’s comment about feral cats.  Accompanying the sickening photo of her with the impaled cat was the comment “My first bow kill, lol.  The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through its head! Vet of the year award gladly accepted.” This is immediately followed by the “crying laughing” emoticon.  (If you thought my use of the word “sociopath” to describe this woman was too strong, maybe the “lol” and the “crying laughing” emoticon in her murder commentary will change your mind.)  What is it about feral cats that makes this barbaric act acceptable to her?  I’m going to go out on a limb her and assume that she does not hold the same contempt for owned cats as she does for feral cats.  The clinic she worked for provided service for dogs, cats, horses and cattle.  I don’t know whether she herself treated cats, but she did work at a veterinary office that does.   The life of a feral cat is often a difficult, miserable life.  They’re constantly scrounging for food, exposed to the elements, desperately seek any kind of shelter, trying to fight off illness with no veterinary care, dodging traffic, dogs, and occasionally cruel humans… it’s a rough, challenging life. I have a number of clients who perform animal rescue or have devoted themselves to helping feral cats.  I have two clients – a married couple – who own a home on an island and have been feeding and caring for a small colony of feral cats for years, employing caretakers to make sure these cats are fed even in the off-season.  They worry about these feral cats the way they do about their own pet cats. When I’m presented with a feral cat, whether it’s truly feral and living outdoors, brought in to me terrified in a humane trap, or brought in by a client who has adopted it and is trying (successfully or not) to socialize the cat and give it some kind of happy, cared-for life, I treat each cat with the same concern and care that I would a pet cat.  Just this past weekend, I was in the hospital for a day and night with a heart arrhythmia. (Don’t worry, I’m fine.)  I was sharing my hospital room with another patient on the other side of the room-dividing curtain, a middle-aged Hispanic gentleman.  As the doctor came in and spoke to and examined the patient, I could not help overhearing his circumstances - homeless alcoholic, drinking problem that’s been going on for over 40 years.  He arrived in the emergency room in an alcoholic stupor, was admitted, and was being encouraged once again to go into rehab.  You really couldn’t come up with a more striking contrast on both sides of the curtain – a white veterinarian practice-owner with a nice salary and good health insurance, and a man with no home, no money, and no health insurance, resisting rehab and wanting to get released so he could continue drinking (which he readily admitted to the doctor).  And yet the attending physician treated us both with the exact same concern and compassion, regardless of our backgrounds and socioeconomic status.  My point is that, as a veterinarian, I treat socially well-adjusted pet cats and feral, unsocialized cats the same. In fact, I’m often more attentive to the feral ones not just because I have pity for them, but also because I know that this might be my one and only chance to examine and tend to them.  I am very aware that, unlike most people, cats have no say in the life that they are given.  Am I na├»ve to assume that most veterinarians feel the same way, given the contempt that Dr. Lindsey expressed for ferals in her sick and twisted post?  I have to believe that her contempt for feral cats is just more evidence of her sociopathic nature.  It would be way too depressing to think that most of my veterinary colleagues discriminate between feral cats and owned ones.

The more one digs into this story, the more you will find, and I’m not sure how good that is.  People have also been digging into Dr. Lindsey’s background, and someone found her old blog in which she lists her “current interests” as “Living my days to the fullest, finding the meaning of happiness, killing things or trying to kill things (animals, a full glass of whiskey, hangovers, etc.)…”  Yes, a veterinarian is listing her current interests as killing or trying to kill animals.  Isn’t that just charming?  The psychotic paragraph of current interests ends with “… hunting with my dad and better yet…learning from my dad was we hunt.”

I know I’m wading into controversial waters here when it comes to talking about hunting.  I understand that millions of people do hunt, even veterinarians. (Some of my veterinary school classmates were hunters, I’m sorry to say.)  I’ve heard all of the arguments, pro and con, and it’s beyond the scope of this blog post.  Yes, it’s hypocritical to eat meat you buy in the supermarket that comes from factory farms, blah blah blah, yes at least hunters are eating the meat that they kill, blah blah blah.  Spare me.  Whether you eat the meat or not is not the point.  For me, it’s the deriving of pleasure that hunters feel when they deliberately end an animal’s life that I’ve never understood, will never comprehend, and will never forgive. Period.  As someone who is required to deliberately cause the death of animals as part of his job, I’ve lived for years with the sorrow that it causes every day.  We do it so much that it gets incorporated into our DNA.  Every veterinarian reading this knows what I’m talking about.  The knowledge that what we’re doing is justified and is relieving animal suffering is what allows us to keep it together, even though our actions cause such terrible grief in our beloved clients.  So to derive satisfaction and make a fun outing of a day where the goal is to deliberately end an animal’s life seems sick and twisted enough, but for a veterinarian to do this seems doubly unfathomable.  Again, I don’t understand it and I don’t think I ever will.

In any event, as much as I’d like to wash my hands of this entire story, I can only hope future stories will come about Dr. Lindsey’s license being revoked, or charges of animal cruelty being leveled, or lawsuits by the people who owned the cat she killed (in case you hadn’t heard, the “feral” cat she had such contempt for was actually a pet cat).  I also hope that in this age of social media where news travels very fast, that any attempt by Dr. Lindsey to remain low-key and eventually quietly find another job as a veterinarian is met with social media outrage and exposure so that no veterinary hospital ever hires her and that she never works again as a veterinarian.  She doesn’t deserve the honor and joy that comes with this job, and her clients and patients deserve better. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crispy the Cat and her New Challenges

MAR 17, 2015 8:00pm - In 2001, while working at the ASPCA, I encountered a kitten in their hospital’s ICU. She was one of the cruelty cases. Some horrible person had put her in very hot water. The tips of her ears fell off, as did her tail. The doctors and staff at the ASPCA took excellent care of her, slathering burn cream on her wounds and tending to her medical needs. I vowed, if she survived this ordeal, that I would take her home and make sure the remainder of her life was completely trauma free.

I kept my word. The little diva, who I dubbed “Crispy”, turned out to be the most intelligent cat I’ve ever owned, and we formed quite a bond. I can read perfectly every thought of hers, and she apparently can read mine. It’s been like this for 14 years.

This past Thursday, during a visit to my hospital for her annual grooming and lab tests, I felt a mass in her abdomen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Georgia Engel and Dr. Arnold Plotnick

Simply wonderful! Georgia Engel - star of film, television, and stage - lover of felines - brought her cat in to see Dr. Plotnick at Manhattan Cat Specialists for a check-up. She is known for her role as Georgette Franklin Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and has also appeared on The Love Boat, Coach, The Office, Mork and Mindy, Fantasy Island, Passions, just to name a few.  We were all star-struck here at the cat hospital.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lymph Node Enlargement in the Cat

Lymph Node Enlargement in the Cat

We’ve all heard of lymph nodes, but what exactly are they?  What do they do?  And why be concerned when they become enlarged?

As a feline veterinarian, I perform dozens of physical examinations every week.  Every veterinarian performs the physical exam in his or her own style, making sure to evaluate all body systems thoroughly.  Assessment of the lymph nodes is unquestionably a part of every veterinarian’s physical exam. 

The lymphatic system is an arm of the immune system that plays a role in the development of the body’s immune response. Lymph is the fluid that flows through the lymphatic system.  It is rich in protein and white blood cells.   Cells of the immune system circulate throughout the lymphatic vessels in the body. Lymph nodes are small, oval-shaped organs that make up part of the lymphatic system.  As lymph flows through the lymphatic vessels, it passes through at least one set of lymph nodes, and often several sets, before ultimately emptying into the general circulation where it mixes with blood.   The lymph nodes are the major sites in the lymphatic system where the immune cells gather.   

Friday, February 27, 2015

Therapeutic Diets in the Management of Feline Medical Conditions - (What to Feed a Cat that is Unhealthy)

In my feline-only veterinary practice, not a day goes by without a client asking me what is the best diet for their healthy cat.  These days, it is becoming more difficult to answer this seemingly simple question. Many people feel that cats should be fed canned food only, and that dry food is terrible for their cat. Other people feel that the composition of the food is much more important than the form (canned vs. dry) and insist that low carbohydrate (“grain-free”) diets are the only ones suitable for true carnivores like the cat.  Still others shun all commercial diets and are adamant that homemade “raw” diets are the only way to go.

An easier question for me to answer is what to feed a cat that is unhealthy.  As veterinary medicine has progressed, the use of therapeutic diets has played an increasingly important role in the management of many illnesses.  The number of companies that manufacture therapeutic diets has grown, as has the variety of diets that they offer.  These diets can help manage a remarkable number of ailments (see Table 1).  In this article, I’ll touch on the most common conditions that I see in my practice, and how these diets help me manage these disorders.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Arden Moore's New Book *Fit Cat: Tips and Tricks to Give Your Pet a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life.*

One of the best things about being a veterinarian and writer is that I often get to cross paths with very cool people.  And there is probably no one cooler than my friend and colleague Arden Moore.  The supremely talented Ms. Moore takes multitasking to an entirely new level.  She is a radio show host, podcaster, dog and cat behavior consultant, editor, speaker, entertainer, educator, and pet first-aid instructor.   Let’s not forget author extraordinaire.  She has written many many books, including The Cat Behavior Answer Book; Happy Cat, Happy You; The Kitten Owner’s Manual; Planet Cat: A CAT-alog; 50 Simple Ways to Pamper Your Cat; and Understanding Your Cat: Practical Answers to All Your Behavior Questions.  That’s just some of the cat stuff.  She’s written just as many dog books.



Today I was the lucky recipient of an advance copy of Arden’s newest cat book, “Fit Cat: Tips and Tricks to Give Your Pet a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life." First of all, it’s an attractive looking book, with some really cute cats and kittens on the cover.  Somehow, Arden manages, in just 200 pages, to thoroughly cover nearly everything you’d need (and want) to know about keeping your cat physically and mentally healthy and happy.  Check out the scope of these 14 chapters:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...