Monday, July 27, 2015

Reader Question: What could the issue be if my cat is having trouble jumping up onto furniture?

Question: My female cat, Sadie is 8.5 years old and weighs about 14 pounds.  Lately, she has been having trouble jumping up on to furniture; she has actually missed a couple of times.  I have been concerned about her joints, about a year ago and took her to the vet about it, and she didn’t couldn’t find anything after checking her joints.  I do give her “Hip and Joint” cat chews, two a day.  What could this problem stem from: bad joints, or maybe a weight problem?  I can tell this is affecting her confidence in jumping on to things.  What do you suggest?

Thank you,
Ms. Laurel B.

Dear Laurel,

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 5 - Goodbye Amsterdam, Hello Paris

Day 5 - Goodbye Amsterdam, Hello Paris
(Continued from Day 4)

Day 5 of our trip was mainly a travel day, but we had the entire morning to do something in Amsterdam.  I was considering the Rembrandt House, or maybe the zoo, but Udi was free that morning, and offered something pretty neat.  He said that if we wanted, he'd take us into the countryside and we could visit some little villages.  I thought that sounded great, so we got in his car, and off we went.

On the way, I actually saw a Dutch windmill.  Finally.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 4 - Markets, Parks, a Cat or Two, and the Eurovision Song Contest

Day Four in Amsterdam - Markets, Parks, a Cat or Two, and the Eurovision Song Contest
(Continued from Day 3

Saturday was our last full day in Amsterdam.  We were going to check out the newly renovated Stedelijk Museum, but there was a change of plans.  Our friend Udi was free that morning, and he suggested we check out some local markets.  Sounded good to us!  First we had a nice brunch at Teun.

Then we hit an outdoor market in his neighborhood, the Jordaan.  Vendors were selling a variety of drinks.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 3 - The Red Light District, Amstelkring Museum, and Westerpark

Day 3 in Amsterdam - The Red Light District, Amstelkring Museum, and Westerpark
(Continued from Day 2)

No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a peek at the city's oldest neighborhood, which has hosted the world's oldest profession since the year 1200.  The Dutch call this area "De Wallen" or "The Walls", after the old city walls that once stood here.  Amsterdam's current city government is trying to contain the sex trade so that it's limited to this area of the city.

This was my fourth visit to the city.  I had to check it out on my first visit, naturally.  On my second visit, with Mark, he wanted to see what the fuss was about, so I checked it out again.  Then I went with Brad, and it was his first visit, so once again I found myself traipsing through De Wallen.  Thankfully, on my fourth visit, I no longer had any desire to witness the decadence.  However, there are a lot of cool historical things to see in this area, so off we went.  Taking photos is verboten (unless you want a police officer or a gargantuan bouncer reminding you of this, up close and personal, if you try), so I limited the photos to inanimate things.

I thought this was cool, though.  This statue is titled "Belle" and it depicts a full-figured woman standing in a doorway at the top of a few small steps, as she looks confidently out into the world.

It was created by Els Rijerse, a Dutch artist.  The bronze sculpture is located on Oudekerksplein, in front of Oude Kerk, Amsterdam's oldest church.  Mariska Majoor, a former prostitute who now works at the Prostitute Information Center.  The statue is meant to show respect to the millions of women around the world who earn their money through prostitution.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Disorders of the Feline Esophagus (and the Difference between Vomiting and Regurgitation)

Last week I examined a cat that was brought to my feline-only veterinary practice for a gastrointestinal problem.  I asked the client what her main concern was, and she said that the cat was regurgitating frequently.  I asked if the cat was truly regurgitating, or if he was vomiting.  She said, “I didn’t realize there was a difference”.

I would venture that most people incorrectly believe that vomiting and regurgitating are synonymous. Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth.  When animals vomit, the forceful contractions of the stomach are clearly visible.  Regurgitation, on the other hand, is the ejection of undigested food from the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth and the stomach.  (In lay terms, we often call the esophagus the “food pipe”, similar to the way we call the trachea the “windpipe”.) Regurgitation is a passive process; the animal leans forward, puts its head down, and the esophageal contents are expelled.  Unlike vomiting, there is no salivation, retching, or violent abdominal contractions.  The two processes are completely different, and so are the disorders that cause them.

Upon further questioning of my client, it was apparent that the cat was actually vomiting, and this was no surprise.  Esophageal disorders are much less common than disorders of the stomach and intestines in cats. Below is a list of the most common esophageal disorders in cats.

Esophageal foreign bodies
Reflux esophagitis
Hiatal hernia
Esophageal stricture
Cancer of the esophagus

Megaesophagus is a condition in which the esophagus is weak and unable to propel food from the mouth to the stomach.  The esophagus becomes flaccid and large (hence the “mega”, derived from Greek, meaning “large”).  There are several causes of megaesophagus in the cat, such as congenital and hereditary disorders (Siamese cats are predisposed) and neuromuscular disorders (such as dysautonomia and myasthenia gravis).  In most cases, the underlying cause is never identified.  Regurgitation is the most prominent sign in cats with megaesophagus.  If megaesophagus is secondary to a neuromuscular disorder, other signs, such as weakness, muscle pain, and muscle atrophy may be present.  Some cats with megaesophagus will regurgitate food into their mouths and then accidentally inhale some food into their lungs, leading to aspiration pneumonia.  Additional clinical signs associated with aspiration pneumonia include fever, labored breathing, and coughing.   Diagnosis of megaeophagus can often be made via radiology (x-rays).  Administration of barium before the x-rays are taken greatly enhances the visualization of the esophagus, aiding in the diagnosis.  Treatment of megaesophagus consists mainly of supportive care, except in those rare cases where a treatable underlying cause has been identified.  Supportive care involves feeding frequent small meals with the cat in an upright position.  The cat is trained to eat from a bowl placed on an elevated platform.  Ideally, the cat is held upright for 10 minutes after eating so that gravity may assist the movement of food into the stomach.  Liquefied food works best.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 2 - The Six Collection, Electric Ladyland (the First Museum of Fluorescent Art), and EyeBar

Day 2 in Amsterdam - The Six Collection, Electric Ladyland (the First Museum of Fluorescent Art), and EyeBar
(Continued from Day 1)

It's amazing what 31 hours of being awake, followed by half an ambient and a comfortable bed will do for you.  Woke up feeling very rested, and we faced the day with great anticipation, for today we were going to view The Six Collection.   Udi has lived in Amsterdam for over 20 years and had never even heard of it, so when I made a reservation for a tour, he said he would take the morning off from work and join us.  

To explain The Six Collection, I'm going to quote liberally (in other words, blatantly plagiarize) from Russell Shorto's book, "Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City", one of my favorite books of the year.  

The beautiful house below is the home of the Six family.  The family has resided in this home since the 17th century.  When you step into the home (through the street-level doorway, rather than up the stairs), you enter into another world.  Living in the home is a man named Jan Six.  His father, the previous occupant, was Jan Six.  His eldest son is named...  Jan Six.  The fifty-six room home we were about to enter is not just a private residence.  It is the home of The Six Collection, arguably the world's grandest collection of art in a private home. The collection began in 1600s.  By the turn of the 20th century, it had grown in such size and prominence that Jan Six (not sure which one) asked the Dutch government for help in managing it.  They worked out an arrangement (which not everyone is happy about, leading to ongoing squabbles, becoming at times a matter of parliamentary debate) is an arrangement whereby the collection is owned by a private foundation (owned by the family), which has a legal contract with the Dutch state whereby the government provides a subsidy to maintain the collection and the family promises not to sell anything, and to open the house to the public on a limited basis.

So I went to the website, chose "English", and then filled out the form to reserve a tour of the place.  Fortunately, the request was granted.  As Mark, Udi, and I hovered around the entrance, two other couples appeared.  They, too, must have requested a tour online.  At precisely 10:00 a.m., a woman opened the door and invited us in.  The woman introduced herself as a student who was studying the works in the collection.  She would be the one conducting the one-hour tour.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Be Careful with Flurbiprofen around Cats

In mid-April, the FDA issued a warning to pet owners about the dangers of flurbiprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for humans.  It is used in some topical medications to treat muscle and joint pain.  The drug has been blamed for sickening or killing several cats.  I’m not sure if readers of this blog heard about this in April, but I think it bears repeating.

In two cases cited by the FDA, the cream or lotion was not applied directly to the cats.  Instead, it was used on the owners’ neck or feet.  Exactly how the cats became exposed isn’t known.  The two cases cited included two cats in one household that suffered kidney failure, but recovered with veterinary care.  Two cats in a second household that showed reluctance to eat, displayed lethargy, vomiting anemia and black, bloody stools went to a veterinarian, but ended up dying.  A third cat died after the owner stopped using the medication.  Autopsies found evidence of NSAID toxicity in the three cats’ kidneys and intestines.

Fluriprofen is a very potent NSAID that is not recommended for oral use in dogs or cats because of their extreme sensitivity.  Occasionally, the drug is prescribed for pets in eye drops, for some inflammatory eye conditions.  People using these medications should be very careful when applying them in a household with cats.  Even very small amounts could be dangerous to these animals.  Sometimes, fluriprofen cream is combined with other medications, like the muscle relaxer cyclobenzaprine, as well as other varying active ingredients, including baclofen, gabapentin, lidocaine, or prilocaine.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 1 - Arrival

I love to travel.  It’s what I live for.  Although I tend to seek out new and exotic lands, it’s nice to go back to familiar places now and then.  I get to revisit restaurants and museums that I enjoyed the first time I visited, and I get to check out new neighborhoods, new exhibits, and new shops and stores.   So, for my first trip of 2015, I chose two fantastic cities – Amsterdam and Paris. 

As you know, I’m a cat veterinarian and enthusiast, so I try my best to do and see anything that may be cat-related while I travel.    Previous trips I’ve taken – to Greece, Turkey, and Morocco – made this easy. These countries were swarming with stray cats.  They were everywhere.   This is not the case in Amsterdam and Paris, however, I did manage to see a few, as you’ll soon discover.

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