Sunday, March 30, 2014

Arizona Gives Day: How It Helps Our Shelter Cats

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Tucson, AZ

On April 9th, 2014, the second annual Arizona Gives Day will take place statewide for 24 hours online.  During this time, you can support your passions by contributing to causes, such as the local Tucson cat shelter PAWSitively CATS.  Your tax deductible donation of $10 or more is processed through your internet capable computer, tablet, or smart phone. 

In addition to the amount of your direct donation, there are monetary prizes for the nonprofits who have the most donors, most donations, or most donors in a specified hour.  Also, certain individual or corporate sponsors will pledge to match up to a certain goal amount of donations to a specific nonprofit like PAWSitively CATS.  You can see how important your donation is for helping the shelter reach two or more goals at the same time!

How does your donation help PAWSitively CATS?
As a nonprofit organization, every penny is spent very wisely at this no-kill shelter.  It takes approximately $15,000 every month to run the shelter.  This includes veterinary care, rent, utilities, food, cat litter, payroll, and property/liability insurance.  Veterinary costs alone can reach several thousand dollars per month in order to ensure the health of the cats. 

What are some specific examples of where donations will go?
  • $15 buys 40 pounds of scoopable cat litter
  • $25 provides a week's worth of dry cat food for 20 cats
  • $50 will vaccinate a momma cat and her litter of 4 kittens
  • $100 provides the veterinary care to ready a kitten for adoption
  • $200 enables care for the diabetic shelter cats for 1 month
  • $300 provides a dental exam and basic dentistry services for 1 cat

Please mark April 9th on your calendar so you can join your fellow Arizonans in providing support to your favorite cat shelter, PAWSitively CATS on Arizona Gives Day!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What Should I Know About Adopting a Shelter Cat?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

Deciding to add a new cat to your home is a big decision, regardless of where you decide to get your cat.  You have to be practical as far as knowing whether your budget can allow buying food and litter supplies, as well as veterinary care.  Is there only enough space where you live to have a certain number of cats/pets?  If you rent, does your landlord allow cats?  Do you have enough time to devote to a new cat?  Will you commit to providing a forever home for the cat for up to 20 years?  If the answer to any of these questions is no, instead, consider sponsoring a special cat at your local shelter or become a volunteer.  Later, when circumstances change, you will hopefully have already met a special cat that you are ready to take home!

If you are ready to adopt a cat, most shelters require an application be submitted.  Some applications may appear picky or overly detailed, and may even require a background check.  The reason behind asking so many questions is to confirm that you are indeed ready for a cat and are committed to providing a safe, forever home as well as any required veterinary care.  Although shelters are willing to take back cats after they are adopted, they prefer to find a permanent placement where the cat can live out their life, in a well cared for manner.

Another concern you may have is why is there an adoption fee, or why is it so expensive.  Most shelters here in Tucson have a cat adoption fee around $100-$200, which generally includes their spay/neuter, FeLV/FIV test, initial vaccines, and microchip.  In addition to having provided these services to your new cat, the shelter also has to pay for the day to day expenses of rent, utilities, staff wages, food, litter, veterinary bills, etc.  As you know, adopting a "free to a good home" cat or kitten from the classifieds who has not had these services performed, would have much higher costs in the short term than the adoption fee paid at a shelter, especially if they have health problems that you are not told about when you take them home.

Talia & Andrea (bonded pair)
When you adopt a shelter cat, the staff is often very knowledgeable about each cat's personality and any potential health issues, which is very helpful for you to find your perfect match.  Most shelters have cats of all ages and appearances, too.   If you know that you will not be at home as much as is ideal, you can consider adopting a bonded pair of cats so that they can keep each other company.  After you adopt a shelter cat and save their life, another cat can take their place, which saves their life too!  In addition, sharing your positive adoption experience with the shelter to your friends and colleagues, allows word of mouth to help get even more cats adopted. 


PAWSitively CATS has adoptions on Saturdays at 3432 E. Ft. Lowell Rd and PetCo at 22nd/Harrison, or by appointment.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Should I Worry About My Cat Getting Rabies?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

Rabies should be a concern for every pet owner, whether the pet goes outside or not, since it is always fatal if they are not vaccinated.  Here in Southern Arizona, we are lucky to have a low incidence of the disease compared to other parts of the United States.  However, no matter where you live, rabid bats or other infected animals can potentially get into your house and expose your pets and family to the disease.  According to the CDC's 2010 data of rabies cases, cats have the most reported cases of rabies, 4 times more cases than in dogs. 

Rabies virus is mostly transmitted via saliva through direct bite wounds.   Rarely, the virus can be spread through other routes of contact with saliva, such as inhalation, or through the placenta during pregnancy.  Depending on how much virus is injected into the bite wound and where the bite wound is located on the body, it can take weeks to months for any symptoms to be observed.  By the time symptoms are present, the animal can transmit the infection to others.  Within 10 days of the start of the disease, death occurs.

Symptoms can include:
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Hypersensitivity to light and noises
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Aggression
  • Decreased appetite
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Abnormal walking or weakness
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Death

Rabies can only be a suspected diagnosis in a live animal.  Confirmation requires examination of the brain after euthanasia or death.

Please vaccinate your cat for rabies on the schedule required by your local laws and as advised by your veterinarian. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What is pancreatitis?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

Pancreatitis is defined simply as inflammation of the pancreas.  The pancreas is an organ near the stomach, which produces enzymes to help digest food and insulin to regulate blood glucose (sugar).  The pancreas can become inflamed suddenly (acutely) or can be inflamed over a long period of time (chronic).  The symptoms can range from subtle to drastic in nature, with no symptoms that are specific to only pancreatitis.  Pancreatitis can occur at the same time as other diseases, which can further complicate its diagnosis and treatment.

Acute pancreatitis usually has more serious symptoms than chronic pancreatitis.  Cats may have decreased or no appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, weight loss, and/or abdominal pain.  With enough inflammation, the bile duct can be affected, causing jaundice (yellow skin/tissue).  Sadly, with aggressive types of acute pancreatitis, death is possible. 

Any cat that is showing the above symptoms should be taken to their veterinarian to help determine if the cat has pancreatitis, or another disease.  Pancreatitis can occur along with inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, diabetes, and certain types of infections.  Pancreatitis can cause enough damage to the pancreas to cause diabetes or digestive enzyme insufficiency. 

Blood work and/or ultrasound can be used to diagnose pancreatitis.  Like most diseases, early diagnosis and treatment increases the success rate of medical therapy.   Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your cat may need hospitalization for intravenous fluids, anti-nausea medication, pain medication, antibiotics, antacids, anti-inflammatories, or a feeding tube.  Many cats have B12 deficiencies and malnutrition from not eating due to the disease, therefore it is critical to reestablish the cat's appetite as soon as possible.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why is my cat scooting and/or licking their rear end?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

If your cat is actively and frequently licking their anal area, your cat is trying to tell you there is a problem!  While many people think that their pet may have worms, this is actually an uncommon cause for anal irritation.  Other possible reasons for an irritated rear end include diarrhea, constipation, a wound, a tumor, or most commonly, an anal gland/sac problem.  A visit with your cat at your veterinarian's office can help determine the source of the issue. 

What are anal glands? 
Anal glands are tiny sacs, located just inside of the anus in the rectum, that are normally filled with some amount of a tan colored, odorous fluid, which is expressed through small ducts during a bowel movement.  This fluid may also be released abruptly due to fear or by scooting the read end on the floor. 

What happens with anal gland disease? 
Some cats do not seem to express their anal glands properly when they defecate.  Although there may be no true disease, the cat feels discomfort which leads to licking or scooting.  This discomfort can be relieved by anal gland expression, a procedure performed at your veterinarian's office. 

Abnormal anal gland fluid is thick, colored yellow-green, or bloody.  Irregular anal gland fluid color indicates an infection that requires treatment by your veterinarian.

Sometimes the gland can become impacted, which means the anal gland fluid cannot escape through the duct.  Impaction seems to happen as a result of thick, granular material becoming lodged in the duct, therefore blocking it.  If the impaction is caught early, your veterinarian can manually express the material out of the sac. 

If the impaction is not found soon enough, an abscess will form, causing a large bulge, which can eventually rupture the anal sac.  When an abscess forms, your cat will likely have a fever, causing lethargy and a decreased appetite.  If the gland ruptures, there will be noticeable wetness, that is red or yellow-green in color.  Most cats will need to be sedated and be given pain medication for successful treatment at this stage of the disease.

How do I prevent anal gland issues?
For some cats, a food change to a high fiber, grain free, or limited ingredient diet can help prevent future anal gland flareups.  Other cats require intermittent anal gland expression by your veterinarian.