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:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Rabies in New York City in 2014

"You're crazy Dr. Plotnick!"
Call me crazy, but every year I like to read the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s rabies reports and see if anything has changed since the last year, or if there are any new trends.

The news is:  there was a big drop in rabies cases.  For the entire year 2014, twelve animals tested positive for rabies.  They were 10 raccoons, 1 skunk, and 1 opossum.  Six raccoons and the skunk were from Staten Island, and 4 raccoons and the opossum were from Brooklyn.   That’s a very big drop for Staten Island.  In 2013, there were 49 rabid animals reported.  Last year, it was only 7.  There were no rabid animals in Queens, for the fourth year in a row.  The Bronx almost always has one or two rabid animals reported, but in 2014, there were none reported.  That’s the first time that’s happened since 1996. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mast Cell Tumors in Cats

Mast cells are a component of the immune system. They originate from the bone marrow, and play an important role in the inflammatory process, especially in allergic reactions. Mast cells are found in all tissues of the body, but are concentrated in the skin, respiratory tract, and digestive tract.

Mast cells produce a variety of chemicals that have differing effects on the body. These chemicals are stored in granules within the mast cell. In fact, it is the striking blue granules that are the most salient feature of mast cells when looking at them under a microscope.

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.

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