Sunday, November 24, 2013

Does your cat drink or urinate more than they used to?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

As discussed in previous blogs, cats do not give us many symptoms when they are ill.  One of the few sets of easily recognized symptoms is increased water consumption (polydipsia) and urination (polyuria).  These symptoms often go hand in hand, usually due to diseases that prevent the kidneys from properly concentrating the urine and therefore increasing thirst.  An exception is an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), where the cat compulsively drinks water.  The other two most common reasons in the cat for increased thirst and urination are kidney disease and diabetes.  Less commonly, cats will have certain cancers, adrenal diseases, infections, or hormone/electrolyte abnormalities causing the polyuria and polydipsia. 


Luckily the top 3 diseases are easily diagnosed with routine blood and urine tests.  The sooner these diseases are diagnosed, the more likely we are able to avoid complications and to slow the progression of the disease.  These are treatable diseases, not just old age changes.  Treating kidney disease involves things such as maintaining proper hydration, feeding prescription food formulas, addressing any infections or electrolyte abnormalities, and monitoring for nausea and blood pressure changes.  Diabetes treatment initially involves insulin administration, diet changes, and addressing underlying infections, with some cats eventually going into diabetic remission and no longer requiring insulin.  Treating hyperthyroidism can be achieved with low iodine diets, oral medication, radioactive iodine treatment, and rarely surgical removal of the thyroid gland. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Should my cat be microchipped or wear a collar?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

All cats should wear some sort of identification in the form of a collar or microchip.  Indoor only cats can escape the house accidentally by pet sitters, repairmen, children, etc.  Natural disasters are also a cause of being separated from your pet.  If your pet is found injured and taken to a veterinarian for medical attention, you definitely want to be located as soon as possible so you can make decisions regarding your pet's care. 


Microchipping is considered permanent identification that will last for the duration of your pet's life.  A microchip is a small electrical circuit encased in a capsule, similar in size to a grain of rice.  Microchips are placed using a large needle under the skin between the shoulder blades.   The microchip itself only contains an identification number that can be read by a microchip reader found at a veterinarian's office or local animal shelter. 

When a microchip number is registered into a database, your name and contact information, as well as your pet's name is recorded.  Most cats obtained from rescue organizations are already microchipped. Your veterinarian can confirm the presence of a microchip by using a scanner during your cat's exam. You may need to confirm or register your contact information with the microchip company.

Microchipping is an important way to find your pet if they become lost.  When your lost pet is scanned, the identification number obtained by the scanner via radio frequency is then looked up in the database to find your contact information.  Today's microchips do not have GPS capability and cannot track your lost cat.  The disadvantages to having a microchip is that your pet must be scanned to find the number and that you must keep your contact information up to date in the database.



Collars can be tricky for cat owners, since cats are often less agreeable to wearing a collar compared to dogs.  Proper cat collars contain a "quick release" or "breakaway" type of latch or elastic that allows the collar to be removed by the cat if they get their collar caught on something, to avoid strangulation.  Collars can be fitted with an identification tag.  The advantage to collars is that the cat is known to have an owner quicker, than with a microchip. The disadvantage is if the collar is removed by the cat or by a person who finds the cat, all identification is lost.


Online Resources:
Pet Microchip Number Look Up
Home Again microchips
AVID microchips
24 Pet Watch microchips

The above cats are available for adoption through PAWSitively CATS.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why is my cat's skin itchy?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

Most cat owners notice their cats scratching or chewing their skin occasionally, just like us humans get the random itch.  If your cat starts scratching or chewing their skin more frequently, especially if they start losing hair, there may be a health problem.  The most common causes of itchy skin include parasites and allergies.  Less common causes include ringworm, poor diet, or obesity.

Skin parasites are mainly seen on cats who go outside but can also be found on indoor only cats.  In most areas of the United States, fleas are a very common skin parasite that infest pets.  Not all cats itch as much as other cats do with fleas.  There are several varieties of ticks in the US.  In addition to causing skin irritation, fleas and ticks can also spread very serious diseases.  Lice and mange are less common in cats but can also cause itching.  Your veterinarian can perform some tests in their office to help identify these parasites. 

Allergies in cats cause itchy skin, instead of the sneezing and runny eyes that people experience.  There are several categories of allergens including direct contact, inhalant, and food.  Certain laundry detergents, carpet or upholstery cleaners, and odor neutralizing sprays may cause your cat to itch when they come in contact with the chemical residue.  Outside, contact with certain grasses or weeds may cause itching.  Inhaled allergens include mold spores, pollens, and dust mites.  Food allergies can develop over time in response to certain proteins or carbohydrates.  Your veterinarian can discuss your cat's exposure to these allergens to help determine the possible cause of the itching.

Certain lower quality diets may not provide enough nutrition for your cat's skin and coat.  Optimal levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are necessary to maintain proper skin and coat quality.  Certain diets may also predispose your cat to obesity.  Your veterinarian can make recommendations on brands of food that are healthier for your cat.

Obesity can indirectly cause itchy skin.  Overweight cats have trouble performing adequate grooming.  They are more likely to develop hair mats, dandruff, and poor hygiene around their rear end.  Mats are uncomfortable, itchy, and can lead to skin infections.  Poor rear end hygiene can also lead to skin as well as urinary tract infections.  There are several types of weight loss diets available that can get your cat back to their ideal body condition.

Come check out the PAWSitively CATS Facebook page and view our adoptable cats!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What will happen if I have my cat euthanized?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

What is euthanasia?
Euthanasia is also known as putting an animal to sleep or putting an animal down.  Euthanasia is the process of providing a peaceful death in a relatively painless way.

There are several important decisions that pet owners must make when they decide to euthanize their pet:
  1. Do you want the procedure performed at your house or at your veterinarian's office?
  2. Do you and your family want to be with your pet during the process?
  3. Do you have a place to bury your pet or would you prefer cremation?
Setting up the appointment:
Your veterinarian's office staff can advise you of the method your veterinarian will use to put your cat to sleep as well as how much it will cost.  All veterinarians can perform euthanasias in their office during normal office hours.  Emergency 24 hour care facilities have a more flexible schedule.  Some regular as well as most mobile veterinarians can set up a specific time to come over to your house to perform the procedure. 

During the euthanasia:
Some veterinarians will have an IV catheter placed before giving a sedative, while others will give an initial sedative under the skin or in the muscle.  If a cat is severely ill, an initial sedative may not be needed.  After the cat is very sedated, an injection of a high dose of barbiturate anesthesia will be given that will quickly circulate causing your pet to pass within a few minutes.

You can choose to be with your cat for all or just part of the process.  Some people are embarrassed about the emotion they will display, however your veterinarian has performed the procedure in front of people showing various levels of grief and will not judge you by how you show your love for your pet.  As long as you are able to provide soothing love for your cat in their final moments, you should feel comfortable staying with your pet.  If you know that you will be unable to stay with your pet, feel confident in your veterinarian and their staff to provide a peaceful passing. 

What to do with your pet's body:
Some people have access to an area where they can legally bury their pet in their yard or at a pet cemetery.  The Pet Cemetery of Tucson is an option for Tucson residents.  This business provides transportation of your pet, burial sites, and cremation services. 

Your veterinarian may offer cremation through a local animal crematorium.  Your pet can be cremated with other pets and placed in a group burial site or your pet can be individually cremated with their remains returned to you. 

Some local human funeral homes will also perform pet cremations.  Most local animal control facilities and humane societies can also help with your pet's remains.

Grieving is a natural, expected process that will occur after your pet's euthanasia.  You may feel a mixture of guilt, anger, and sadness before you are able to accept your pet's death.  Do not feel rushed during this process.  Everyone recovers in their own time.  There are online resources such as Help Guide available to assist you.

You can make a donation to PAWSitively CATS in memory of your special pet.