Friday, April 30, 2010 | Cat expert: How to avoid hairballs | Cat expert: How to avoid hairballs
by Julia Schmalz, USAT

Today is National Hairball Awareness Day. Dr. Arnold Plotnick of the veterinary hospital Manhattan Cat Specialists spoke with me yesterday about the dangers of hair balls and how to avoid them. He is also the editor of Catnip, The Newsletter for Caring Cat Owners and is a writer for Cat Fancy magazine.

Question: Are hairballs more common in certain kinds of cats?

Answer: Long-haired cats are more susceptible, the Persians, Maine Coons, but any cat can get them.

Question: How can they harm cats?

Answer: They have the potential to be dangerous, causing an intestinal obstruction. Swallowing a lot of hair can also cause constipation problems.

Question: How does an owner detect them?

Answer: Most cat owners have had the experience of stepping on a hair ball, which is one way to know cats have a problem. Also, if a cat does exceptional amounts of grooming that is a sign that they could have problems.

Question: What can an owner do to prevent them from forming?

Answer: The best approach is to groom cats regularly with a tool like the Furminator. For short hairs, groom them two to three times a week. For the long hairs, it's best to do it every day.

Question: What else can help the cat if hairballs have already become an issue?

Answer: Diets higher in fiber can remove any clumps of hair balls, helping to pull them through the intestines. A little bit of canned pumpkin, once or twice a week, added to their food adds fiber, and cats to many people's surprise like pumpkin. There are also commercial foods that are higher in fiber.

Also, keep your cat well hydrated. Help encourage cats to drink water by putting water in places where the cat will least suspect. It might stumble upon the water, and think, ah, a place to drink.

But ultimately the best thing to do is groom your cat. That is also a wonderful bonding time with the cat that is a very special time for both of you.

Thank you to Romeo the Cat

We just concluded the hairball prevention and cat wellness Twitter interview with Romeo the Cat (@RomeoTheCat) on National Hairball Awareness Day sponsored by The FURminator (@FURminator_inc).  In case you missed it, you can go to Twitter and search for #NHAD to read the conversation, or, you can also visit:

Today is National Hairball Awareness Day - April 30th

Friday, April 30 is National Hairball Awareness Day

by Anne White of Utica Cats Examiner

Long haired, short haired and in-between haired cats can all be prone to hairballs.
Long haired, short haired and in-between haired cats can all be prone to hairballs.
Anne White
Yes, National Hairball Awareness Day exists and, no, it is not a joke. The folks at FURminator, the popular de-shedding tool have partnered with Arnold Plotnick, MS, DVM, ACVIM, ABVP of Manhattan Cat Specialists and feline internet celebrity Romeo the Cat about the dangers of hairballs and how to treat them.

This veritable anti-hairball SWAT Team offers the following information:


Thursday, April 29, 2010

National Hairball Awareness Day - April 30th

National Hairball Awareness Day

Products to Solve and Prevent Hairballs
Nothing is more unpleasant than hearing your kitty cough up a hairball, and trust us it's not pleasant for your pet either. Check out these products to solve and prevent hairballs.

Hairball Tips

Grooming to Reduce Hairballs
According to experts, cats continuously throwing up hairballs may be a sign that you are not brushing your cat enough!

Cat Wellness Tips
Tips on how to practice healthy grooming habits for cats - which may ultimately affect their overall health.

April 30th is National Hairball Awareness Day is celebrating National Hairball Awareness Day! With grooming tips from FURminator, Inc. and insightful "meows" from Romeo the Cat we are shedding light on this less than pleasant kitty phenomenon.  Dr. Plotnick is proud to team up with FURminator and Romeo the Cat for this year's National Hairball Awareness Day.

8-Week Old Kittens Up for Adoption at Manhattan Cat Specialists

As we mentioned before, we are ramping up our cat and kitten adoption program at Manhattan Cat Specialists.  We have seven 8-week old cute cuddly playful kitties available for adoption... (and... we don't have names for them yet!  Visit the Manhattan Cat Specialists' Facebook page to check out the current name suggestions or add your own.).

If you're in the Manhattan, New York City area and interested in adopting one of these kittens below, please call us at 212-721-2287 or visit us in person (230 W. 76th Street. New York, NY 10023)

In case energetic attention-seeking balls of fur aren't your thing, we also have Missy. Our beautiful sweet (and sometimes sassy) Tortie/Calico 8 year old spayed female is looking for a special home. She loves to jump on your lap and sleep in a nice warm bed. She's happy enough hanging out in our hospital, but she deserves a home.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Lure of Catnip (podcast)

The Lure of Catnip

Catnip has long been a useful icebreaker in the human-feline relationship. Its hypnotic powers have made it one of the key ingredients in cat paraphernalia… including toys… cat bedding.. and scratching posts. It comes in nearly as many different varieties as coffee beans…. With northern climes like Canada and Alaska boasting the highest quality. The catnip farming and retailing business has become a multi-million dollar industry of its own. While catnip has an intoxicating… some say erotic affect on many cat species from Tigers to tabbies… not all cats succumb.

Host Deirdre Kennedy interviews Dr. Arnold Plotnick.
Animals Aloud

Friday, April 16, 2010


As a feline-only practitioner, I’ve seen my share of stubborn hairball problems. There really aren’t very many options when it comes to treating hairballs.  Feeding a commercial “hairball control” diet is often helpful. These diets have extra fiber and are designed to help reduce the incidence of hairballs.  Hairball remedies – the gooey brown ointments – are also helpful. They work to gather up the hair in the stomach and help cats pass them in the stool, rather than vomit them up.  Brushing your cat regularly and removing as much hair as possible before the cat swallows it is very helpful.  In extreme cases, the cat can be shaved.  This will reduce the amount of hair being consumed.  Those are really the only options for hairballs: diet/treats, ointments, brushing, and shaving.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring and Summer Parasite Control

Spring and Summertime is usually a fun time for people, but it can be a miserable time for cats. Summer is peak season for pesky parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. At best, these critters can make your kitty uncomfortable; at worst, they can transmit dangerous diseases.

Few creatures living on earth today have had as much impact on world history as the common flea. From the black plague during the 14th century to the present, fleas have been the cause of much grief. They make your cat itch, especially if the cat is allergic to the flea bite, which is quite common. In fact, flea allergy dermatitis is the most prevalent small-animal skin disease. Fleas are also responsible for transmitting tapeworms to cats. “Though we haven’t figured out how to completely eliminate fleas, in the last few years science has made some tremendous advances in helping pets and their owners cope with these annoying parasites”, said Chantal Acosta, a veterinarian with Country Vets in New York City.

The most effective approach to flea control remains the three-step method: treatment of the yard, the home, and the cat. Excellent compounds are available that can be applied directly to the soil in moist, shady areas around the house where immature fleas are most likely to live. These compounds are reasonably priced, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly. As for the home environment, there are safe and effective compounds that can be applied to carpets and upholstered furniture in cases where the flea problem is especially severe, although in most instances, simply vacuuming and thoroughly washing your cat’s bedding may be sufficient.

In recent years, a number of products have been introduced that are truly among the most effective and important formulations in the war against fleas. Many of these products are applied to the cat’s fur once a month. Some are given orally. Talk to your veterinarian about which product is right for you, as different products have different benefits.

Ticks are less of a nuisance in cats as compared to dogs. It is speculated that the meticulous grooming habits of the cat allows cats to remove most ticks from their coat before they attach. Cats are also fortunate in that they are much less susceptible and thus rarely fall victim to dangerous tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, as compared with dogs. Although most once-a-month flea products do not claim to be effective against ticks, some (for example, fipronil) are effective against both.

As if malaria wasn’t bad enough, in recent years the emergence of West Nile Virus has rekindled our revulsion for the lowly mosquito. Dog owners are well aware of the mosquito’s role in transmitting heartworm disease to their canine companions. Cat owners (and veterinarians, admittedly) have underestimated the incidence and consequences of heartworm disease in cats, with sometimes disastrous results. Unlike dogs, cats are not the natural host of heartworm disease, and mild infections can have serious consequences. Heartworm disease in cats can mimic asthma in many aspects, and many cases go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. An effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats remains elusive, and the prognosis for cats with heartworm disease varies greatly, with some cats dying acutely from their illness. Fortunately, heartworm disease is preventable in cats. Ivermectin, administered monthly as a chewable treat, has been available for years as a preventative. A similar compound, selamectin, can be applied topically, and serves to prevent heartworm as well. "Since heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, cats who are kept indoors can be exposed as well as those who go outside. All cats in an area that has heartworms should be on monthly heartworm prevention.", says Dr. Anne Sinclair, a board-certified feline specialist and owner of Cat Sense Feline Hospital and Boarding in Bel Air, Maryland.

With the assortment of highly effective products available to veterinarians, summer parasites have gone from miserable to manageable. A close working relationship between veterinarians and cat owners is necessary to optimize control of these critters so that cats can remain comfortable during the warm summer months.

"Summer Parasite Control"
"Fleas and Ticks"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Simon's Cat in *Cat-Man-Do*

A hungry cat resorts to increasingly desperate measures to wake its sleeping owner.

by simonscat

How could I not post a cute and funny cat animation video titled "Cat-Man-Do?"
[Thanks to Susan Rae & Susan Cohen for the find]

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cat Car Travel - Is Traveling OK for My Anxious Cat?

Find out how to calm your cat.

Q: Dear Dr. Plotnick,
I want to travel, but my cat freaks out if I put her in the car or in a travel box. I recently went away for a week and left her home with someone to check on her. It made her insecure. She still won't leave my side, and when I go to leave, she howls. How safe is it physically and emotionally to force her to ride in a car for eight hours if she is so upset?

Gaye Shulman

A: Dear Gaye,
As a general rule, cats do not like to travel. While its not dangerous physically or emotionally to take a protesting cat on an eight-hour car trip, its certainly upsetting for owners to witness their anxious cat.

For a short trip, having someone come by your apartment to feed and check on her is reasonable. Apparently this is not an option for you if you plan on going away longer, considering how insecure she became during your recent trip. Ultimately, I do think that taking your cat with you is a better alternative. I am not a big fan of giving tranquilizers or sedatives to cats. I have found that Feliway, a pheromone product, usually makes travel less upsetting for nervous cats. If you spray Feliway on a towel that you put in the carrier, it tends to calm cats. It makes them think that they've marked this item before, so it must be a familiar, secure place. They also make this product in a diffuser that you plug into the wall. The diffuser disperses the pheromone throughout the living space, and again, it has a calming effect on the cat. I find this product to be useful in helping cats to acclimate to a new environment more quickly and less stressfully. Ask your veterinarian about these products.

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