Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Reader Question: My Stumpy Manx Has Been Constipated for 5 Years. Is There Anything that Can Be Done?

We have a 6 1/2 year-old male Manx cat.  Our cat has been dealing with constipation for about 5 years, off and on.  Lately he has been getting anal infections which have been treated with antibiotics.  We have recently starting giving the cat lactulose and cisapride once again because of the constipation.  I was also told he has no nerve feelings on the right side and is about 3 vertebrae short from where his tail stub is. I realize it is difficult to make a prognosis in an email and especially without examining the cat.  Is there anything else that can be done for my cat? We love him with all our hearts.  I really do not want my cat to suffer nor do I want to euthanize him sooner than has to be.

Thank you,
Adele G.

Dear Adele,

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Free Feline Dental Evaluations for your Cats at Manhattan Cat Specialists

Free Feline Dental Evaluations for your Cats in February at Manhattan Cat Specialists.

If you and your cats are in New York City, you might want to consider a free feline dental evaluation.  Dental disease is the most common disease seen in pets. In fact, the majority of cats aged over five years have some form of dental disease. Pets need dental care just like humans do – and Manhattan Cat Specialists wants to help keep your cat’s teeth healthy!
February is National Pet Dental Month. To encourage cat owners to take good care of their cats’ teeth, Manhattan Cat Specialists is offering, during the month of February, a free dental evaluation by one of our veterinary technicians. During this screening, the technician will evaluate the condition of your cats’ teeth and gums and will inform you if it appears that your cat has issues that need further evaluation. We can also advise you on how to keep your cats teeth healthy at home.

Providing proper dental care for your cat can protect it from pain and serious illness. Your cat will have fresh breath, be more comfortable eating, and enjoy meals more, allowing for a longer and happier life.

Call our office at 212-721-2287 and schedule your free dental screening during the month of February.

If you're on Facebook, join our event to easily save the info and share with friends.


Anatomy of the Feline Mouth  

Tooth or Consequences

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Feline Ovarian Remnant Syndrome

Last week, at my cats-only veterinary hospital, I examined a young female cat that had been adopted a few months before from a rescue organization.   The owner had brought her in for behavioral issues.  “She’s been making trilling noises, and she sticks her rear end in the air, and is rolling around on the carpet all squirmy”, said her owner.  “She’s also become super-affectionate.  I have to admit, in some ways it’s kinda cute”, she said, “but the trilling and meowing is driving us crazy. She does it all night!”  

This was classic estrus (heat) behavior.  “There’s nothing to be concerned about”, I told her.  You’ve just given a textbook description of a cat in heat.  Once we spay her, this behavior will stop”, I told her.

    “Well, that’ s just it”, she said.  “She was spayed five months ago.”

    Oh dear.

“You’re pretty certain she was spayed?”, I asked. The owner grabbed her purse and fished out the adoption papers. “Female spayed”, it said on the form, plain as day.  I told her that it’s possible that the person who gave the cat to the rescue group may have told them she was spayed, when in fact, she really wasn’t, and that these kinds of mistakes happen now and then. “When I adopted her, they said that they had spayed her the week before.  In fact, her belly was still shaved when I took her home”, she said.  I retrieved our clippers and guiltily shaved the hair that had grown back so nicely.  I could clearly see the scar from the previous spay surgery.  I had no doubt now that the cat had indeed been spayed.  “This looks like a case of Ovarian Remnant Syndrome”, I told her.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Heartworm Disease in Cats - Not for Dogs Only

Heartworm Disease in Cats - Not for Dogs Only

This potentially disastrous disorder in cats is 100% preventable, but this fact tends to be de-emphasized in cats.

Most people think of heartworm disease (HWD) as a dog disease.  While it’s true that heartworm infection is much less common in cats than in dogs (the feline prevalence is approximately 5 to 20% of the canine prevalence), cats most certainly do get heartworm disease. 
Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.  The life cycle begins when a female mosquito feeds on a heartworm-infected dog and ingests blood that contains circulating microfilariae. (Think of microfilariae as “baby” heartworms.)  A few hours after entering the mosquito, the microfilariae transform into first stage larvae, known as L1.  These larvae then molt into stage L2, and then again into stage L3.  The L3 larvae are the infective stage.  The mosquito now bites a new host, and the L3 larvae are deposited into the skin.  The L3 larvae molt into stage L4.  The L4 larvae migrate into the fat and muscle under the skin over the next two months, ultimately undergoing a final molt to become a juvenile worm. The juvenile worm eventually enters a vein, where it is carried in the bloodstream to the heart and lungs.  Some juvenile worms may mature into adults.

In dogs, the adult worms can live in the heart and lungs for 5 to 7 years.  Cats, however, are not the natural host for heartworms, and their immune system mounts a vigorous response against the worms.  Because of this forceful immune response, in most cats, the juvenile worms die soon after arriving in the lungs.  In a small percentage of cats, however, a few juvenile worms survive and mature into adult worms.  In cats, adult worms have a shorter lifespan – only 2 to 4 years. 

Many cats with HWD have no symptoms.  When signs are evident, they usually develop during two stages of the disease:  Stage 1 – arrival of the worms in the lungs, and Stage 2 – death of adult heartworms.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Deficiency: An Important Component of Gastrointestinal Disease in Cats

Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Deficiency

An Important Component of Gastrointestinal Disease in Cats

Lemon, a 14-year old cat spayed female domestic shorthaired cat, presented to my cat hospital for weight loss and inconsistent appetite.  One day she would eat normally.  The next day, she would just pick at her food.  I asked her owner, Regina Maness, if Lemon was showing increased thirst and urination and was told no, that her thirst and urination were normal.  There was no coughing and no sneezing, although there was an increase in vomiting; she used to vomit about once every two weeks, but now it was closer to once every four days.  There was no diarrhea reported.  I asked if Lemon was lethargic, but Maness said no, she was her normal quiet self.

I had last examined Lemon about 18 months prior, and had given her a clean bill of health.  At that time, she weighed 12 pounds, 8 ounces.  Today, she weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces.  This was a significant drop (27%) in body weight. Except for very waxy ears and some mild dental tartar, everything checked out okay except for the weight loss. 

Chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes are a few of the common illnesses that cause weight loss in elderly cats.  Fortunately, these conditions are usually easily diagnosed by simple laboratory tests.  I recommended we run a “senior profile” – a complete blood count, serum biochemistry panel, thyroid level, and urinalysis to assess Lemon’s general health.  Maness readily consented.

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Year in Review

It’s hard to believe that I’m already writing my end-of-the-year blog post. Every year seems like time has just whizzed by, but 2014 really zoomed by exceptionally fast.

I made a concerted effort to read more books in 2014 than I did in 2013, and it worked.  This year, I read 30 books!  I gave each one my personal star rating, from 1 to 5, with five stars being the highest.  Rather than list them in the order that I read them, I’ll list them from best rating to worst.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Reader Question: Treatment for Low-Grade Intestinal Lymphoma

Dear Dr. Plotnick,

My 12-year-old cat Molly has just been diagnosed with small-cell intestinal lymphoma, following a surgical biopsy.  What can I expect in terms of treatment and prognosis? Thank you very much.

Susan M. S.

Dear Susan,

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Reader Question: Broken Paw and Surgery Recovery

Dear Dr. Plotnick,

My cat broke her paw and she had surgery within 24 hours of it happening. She is recovering (surgery was a week ago today) and she seems to be getting back to herself a little more every day.  She is eating, drinking and cuddling and resting most importantly.  Can you please let me know when a cat has surgery on her paw wrist, uses the splint from 2 – 3 weeks and does the proper rest for 8 – 10 weeks - are the chances good for a full recovery? I am very concerned for her and want her to be ok – I am of course just very worried about her well-being. What do you think?


Dear Fiona,

Monday, December 8, 2014

Feline Asthma

Feline Asthma

My first appointment of the morning was to see Gypsy, a 5 year old neutered male Siamese owned by Gail Harstein.  The chief complaint written in the appointment book was the vaguely worded “hairball problem”.  In the exam room, I asked Gail to elaborate.

“He’s been trying to cough up a hairball for weeks”, said Gail, “but nothing comes up.”  As a feline practitioner, I hear the mistakenly used phrase “coughing up a hairball” at least once a week.  Hairballs live in the stomach.  Cats vomit hairballs.  Vomiting is associated with the gastrointestinal system.  Coughing is derived from the lungs; it is associated with the respiratory system.  When I hear the phrase “coughing up a hairball”, further questioning is necessary to determine whether the cat is vomiting or coughing.   Gail described what she was seeing.  “He hunkers down, extends his neck, and makes a raspy noise a few times.  After about a minute, he’s done, and he trots off on his merry way”, she said.  This was a classic description of a coughing cat.  Any ambiguity was further dispelled when Gail followed with, “Here, I took a video.”  In this age of smartphones, anything can be recorded instantly, and Gail’s short video was definitive: ten seconds of Gypsy coughing his head off.  I told Gail that there are several potential causes for coughing, but in a young Siamese cat, feline asthma is at the top of the list.

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