Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Very Treatable Ailment - Hyperthyroidism in Cats

A Very Treatable Ailment - Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Although its cause is a mystery, most cats diagnosed with hyperthyroidism have an excellent prognosis. 

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM. 
Published in Cat Fancy, September 2014

When Mie S. brought her 15-year-old cat, Cookie, to my cats-only veterinary hospital, she was well aware that he had lost a substantial amount of weight. However, she was shocked when I announced the current reading on the scale. “Wow! Eight and a quarter pounds?” she exclaimed. “He used to weigh 16 pounds!” Knowing that the most common disorders that result in weight loss in geriatric cats are diabetes, hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease (CKD), I was already formulating my questions for her as I carried him back from the scale to the exam table.

Was he drinking a lot of water and urinating excessively? Yes, Mie said, he was. I wasn’t surprised, as all three of the illnesses mentioned above can present with excessive thirst and urination. How about his appetite? “Ravenous,” she said. Cats with CKD tend to have a decreased appetite, so kidney dysfunction moved a notch lower on my list. Cats with diabetes and hyperthyroidism tend to have good appetites. Not just good, though. Exceptionally good, like Cookie’s. While diabetes can occur in almost any age of cat, it classically hits cats in middle age, around 8 or 9 years old. Hyperthyroidism, however, is a geriatric cat disease, tending to affect cats around 13 or older. With Cookie being 15 years old, my mental list had hyperthyroidism first, diabetes second and kidney disease third.

Typically, you cannot feel the thyroid gland in a normal cat’s neck during a physical examination. In cats with hyperthyroidism, however, the gland enlarges and begins to drift downward on the neck. I carefully felt the groove between Cookie’s trachea and the jugular vein, and as I got a little lower … presto! I could easily feel an enlarged thyroid gland. Looks like Cookie read the textbook.

What Is T4?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Caring Words from Clients

Dear Dr. Plotnick and Gina,

I just want to say thank you so much to Dr. Plotnick and to Gina for coming to visit my cats Sherlock and Bartlett yesterday for a home exam. Even though they were terrified, my cats definitely were better off seeing a vet in their home than going outside into the scary world of Manhattan.
I was especially touched that while trying to calm my cat Sherlock, Gina gave him a kiss on his head. It really helped calm him down, because he actually loves getting kisses. I also was very pleased and relieved with the gentle way that Gina and Dr. Plotnick dealt with Bartlett's spiderman attempts to run off the table. 

I was also surprised that Dr. Plotnick really did call me the next morning with the blood test results for both cats. With human health care, you certainly don't get results so soon or have a doctor call when they say they will.

I was very relieved to hear that both cats are in excellent condition, and amused that somehow their blood test figures were remarkably close to each other. I have wondered if it is possible for cats to have fraternal or identical twins, and if my cats are an example of this? They have distinct personalities but are also very alike. 

Again, thank you so much for the excellent care and kind and gentle way that my cats were treated. I will be sure to request another home visit next year for their next exam!

Heidi, Bartlett, and Sherlock

INFO: Feline Veterinary House Calls with Dr. Plotnick

Friday, October 3, 2014

Photog Man Do in Puerto Vallarta

We had just gotten back from a ten day vacation to Morocco, so this seemed a little indulgent, but Mexico is inexpensive, and we hadn’t been to the beach in years.

After my Morocco trip and before this Mexico trip, I did take one more photography class, and the added instruction did make a difference.  So this blog post is more about photography than cats.

We arrived in Puerto Vallarta, and sadly, the Weather Channel was right about the gloom. I knew we would have three full days in Puerto Vallarta.

We headed into town to check things out.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Unique Keepsake Idea for your Passed Feline Companion

Wow! What a unique, creative keepsake idea for your lost, loved companion.

One of our clients commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of her cat using her cat's own ashes.

Thank you for the kind words Laura and Lee

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Double Whammy: When Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Hyperthyroidism Occur Together

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common cause of illness in cats, especially in older cats, and the incidence is increasing.  In 1990, for every 1000 cats admitted to veterinary teaching hospitals, there were 45 cases of CKD.  In 2000, the number increased to 96 cases per 1000 admissions.  In my feline specialty practice, CKD remains the most common illness we encounter, and the most common reason for euthanasia.  

Hyperthyroidism is the most common glandular disorder in cats.  It is mainly a disease of elderly cats, with cats typically being around 13 or 14  years of age at the time of diagnosis.  Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland, located in the neck, secretes an excessive amount of thyroxine, the main thyroid hormone in cats.  (Thyroxine is commonly abbreviated as T4.)  Untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to heart failure and dangerous high blood pressure.

CKD is incurable.  With the exception of a kidney transplant, it is difficult or impossible to improve kidney function in cats with CKD.  The focus of treatment is to delay the progression of the disease, improve the cat's quality of life, and extend a cat's survival time.  This is usually achieved through a variety of dietary and drug interventions.    There are many treatment options for hyperthyroidism. In fact, depending on the treatment option, hyperthyroidism may be curable.  

Because both diseases are primarily found in older cats, it is not uncommon for both disorders to be present in a cat simultaneously.  In fact, most published reports indicate that about 10% of hyperthyroid cats have concurrent CKD at the time of diagnosis.  While the treatment of hyperthyroidism is fairly straightforward, and the methods for controlling CKD are well-established, treatment of thyroid disease in cats with concurrent CKD must be undertaken with caution.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 10 – Our Last Day in Morocco

Day 10 –  Our Last Day in Morocco (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8-1 Day 8-2 Day 9)

Hard to believe, but our last day in Morocco is upon us.  Today’s agenda is to explore as much of Tangier in one day as we can, and then head back home to our own cats, who we miss a lot. 

We started the day at the Gran Café de Paris.  With its tufted brown leather seats impeccable service, and walls covered with fading photos, you feel like you’re back in the ‘50s here.

This is a famous café.  Burroughs wrote here, and parts of The Bourne Ultimatum were filmed here.  The outdoor seats are a popular gathering spot to watch the paseo (the evening stroll that everyone takes) on the boulevard.  We sat outside and had a nice breakfast.

Across the street, just outside the French embassy, two kittens were playing non-stop, and they provided a good half hour of breakfast entertainment.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 9 – Train Trip to Tangier

Day 9 – Train Trip to Tangier  (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8-1 Day 8-2)

I’ve always wanted to visit Tangier.  The city is at the meeting point of two continents and two seas, and it defies comparison with any other city in Morocco.  For the first half of the 20th century, Tangier was an international city, with its own laws and its own administration.  It attracted a lot of writers, including Paul Bowles, the American novelist whose “The Sheltering Sky” is arguably considered the best travel novel ever written.  (After visiting the city, I read another book of his, “Let it Come Down”, which is set in Tangier, and which I really loved.)  William S. Burroughs spent much of the 1950s in Tangier, which he referred to as “Interzone” in his books.  He wrote Naked Lunch while living in Tangier.  Tangier was also the world’s first and most famous gay resort, favored by people like Joe Orton and Tennessee Williams. 

The city’s tourism future wasn’t looking too rosy for a while, though. Over the years, the city gained a reputation as a place to avoid, due to lots of sleazy characters who liked to prey on tourists.  The new king, King Mohammed VI, however, is a cool guy, and he promoted a bunch of renovation and building projects, including a new marina and remodeled port that aims to complete with some of the better known holiday ports along the Mediterranean. 

Day tripping Spaniards are a big part of the tourist market, as Tangier is just across the Strait of Gibraltar.  Other first time visitors, however, might be in for a rude awakening, as mobs of faux guides and bona fide hustlers greet the arriving ferries and immediately start figuring out how to separate these tourists from their money.  I had done my reading, though, and I was prepared.

We left Fez early in the morning and caught the 10:30 train to Tangier.  Again, we had a first class ticket, and we had the travel compartment almost entirely to ourselves.  Before we knew it, it was 2:55 p.m. and we had arrived in Tangier.  The train station is located two miles west of town.  We grabbed a cab and were soon at the famous El Minzah Hotel.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's Take Your Cat To The Veterinarian Day - August 22nd, 2014!

Friday August 22nd, 2014 is Take Your Cat To The Veterinarian Day!

Might I suggest Manhattan Cat Specialists if you are in New York City.  212-721-2287 for an appointment.

Did you know that approximately 10% of pets presented to veterinary clinics for annual check-ups have some underlying disease or abnormality? Most of these pets appear normal on their physical examination, and therefore any abnormalities go undetected without a wellness health screen. That's why I recommend a physical examination for your feline twice a year for life.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 8, Part 2 - The Donkeys of Fes Need You!

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 8, Part 2 - The Donkeys of Fes Need You! (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8-1)

After visiting the Royal Granaries in Meknes, we decided to skip the medina in Meknes.  It was a tough decision, but we had hired our driver, Naji, just for the day, and we had to decide what to do:  explore the souks and food stalls in the Meknes medina, or visit the American Fondouk, a veterinary hospital just outside the Fes medina.  For me, this was an easy decision.  I’m a veterinarian, and I was struck by the number of stray cats in the cities we visited, and how so many of them are in ill health.  I was also very aware of the number of mules and donkeys in the Marrakech and Fes, and was anxious to learn about their veterinary care as well.   Naji wasn’t sure of their operating hours, but we were willing to risk it.

The drive back to Fes was about 90 minutes.  As we got close, Naji pointed out a white compound with tall green hedges all around it.  “There it is”, he said.  I spotted the American flag alongside the Moroccan flag.

Obscured by the hedges was the sign identifying the building.

As we approached the imposing door, we saw the posted hours.  Open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.  I looked at my watch.  4:30.  Sigh.  Naji could see the disappointment in my face.  So he tried something radical.  He knocked on the door.

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