Cat Corner

                                                          May our wonderful Precious RIP - 8/24/2018 and our Smokey RIP- 1/4/2022


Allergy/Atopy- This problem may be seasonal or year round based on its cause.  Atopy is an allergy of the skin usually caused by allergens that are inhaled.  These allergens can be dust, mold, weeds, pollens, environmental contaminents, etc.  The manifestation of atopy is usually a breakout on the skin.  Scabs, scales, itching, hairloss (patchy or generalized), ulcerations, and pustules can occur.  We generally rule in/out atopy based on you cat's lifestyle( indoor/outdoor), region of the country, time of year, type of food consumed, extent of skin lesions.  There are other perpetuating factors that can complicate atopy such as fleas, humidity, type of food, stress, parasites other than fleas ( intestinal worms, mange).  There are several tests we can perform to aid in a diagnosis of atopy, where we can advise you on food trials, medications, and possible lifestyle changes for your cat. 


Cancers - Cats are just as susceptible to cancers just like dogs and humans. The most common cancer/malignancy in cats is Lymphosarcoma.  This cancer can occur anywhere on the body to include the eyes. Others include Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Adenocarcinoma, Transitional Cell Carcinoma, Basal Cell Tumor, Fibrosarcoma, Melanoma, and Osteosarcoma. Any raised mass or suspect abnormality should be examined by your Veterinarian.


Cardiomyopathy - Feline cardiomyopathy is the condition of an enlarged heart whether the heart chambers widen or the heart muscle thickens.  In cats FCM, causes non-specific signs of heart or lung disease such as coughing, gagging, hypertension, lethargy, vomitting, and exercise intolerance.  A common presenting complication of FCM is thromboembolism, where a bloodclot can form and lodge in the lungs or travel to the cat's rear legs causing an acute painful paralysis.  Any cat that has a cough needs to be seen and evaluated for this disease.  There are no age restrictions on FCM, although we see it mostly in cats over 4 years old.


Declawing - This procedure is quite simple and is not what most perceive it to be.  The cat is placed under general anesthesia and remove the third phalynx which is where the claw is produced.  There is no "Ripping out  of the Claw".  Removal of the third phalynx involves cutting of a few ligaments and skin.  The skin is closed, feet are bandaged, the cat is administered pain meds, and keept overnight.  Cats usually recover in 7-10 days.  We DO NOT PERFORM THIS PROCEDURE ANY LONGER. Some cats have a tendency to want to bite since they don't have their front claws.  If you are opposed to declawing, you may trim your cat's claws every week, let your cat outdoors (if this is an option), or try Soft Paws, which are rubber claw covers that must be glued on to your cats claws ( every 2 weeks).  


Dental Disease-Cats and dogs can have gingivitis, missing/damaged teeth, periodontal disease, cavities, etc. This is the MOST COMMON disease diagnosed at every annual visit.  When we examine the mouth, we look at the teeth, tongue, gums, and we try to visualize the tonsils.  Every pet has tartar, and some have bad breath.  Cats get what are called "FORLS" Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions, or caries, which are holes that occur in the tooth enamel that seem to start at the gumline.  These lesions can be painful, cause toothloss, slow apetite, and infection.  These damaged teeth are usually extracted or filled in.  

Gingivitis is the deep reddening of the gums, that causes pain and bleeding of the mouth.  Dental infection, and sometimes fleas can cause gingivitis. Gingivitis more so than tartar is what causes bad breath (halitosis). Antibiotics can treat this condition.


Diabetes Mellitus - This disease is similar to human diabetes Type II, where the pancreas fails to produce a normal amount of insulin to regulate blood sugar.  Most cats that develop DM, acquire it after age 7yrs old with obesity being a major risk factor.  Cats generally show an increase in thirst, urinating, apetite, a greasy haircoat, weight gain or weight loss, urinary tract infection, vomitting, rear leg weakness(flat-footedness), inappropriate urination/BM, reclusiveness, and lethargy.  With any of these clinical signs, a veterinary visit is necessary.


Feline Heartworm Disease- A clear and present problem especially for cats that are outdoor or partially outdoor cats.  It is transmitted via the bite of an infected mosquito (see our video library), where the microfilaria (immature worms)  migrate from the tissues to the heart and cause signs heart disease (coughing, lethargy, gagging, exercise intolerance).  Cats can be tested for Heartworm disease and placed on a monthly preventative such as Feline Heartguard, Revolution(topical), and Feline Advantage Multi(topical).  ** If your cat tests positive for HW disease, we will provide a full consultation to provide options to keep your cat comfortable.


Feline Herpes/Calicivirus/Chlamydia - Commonly known Feline Distemper, this set of infectious processes  can cause upper respiratory disease and GI disturbances such as vomitting and diarrhea. Herpes virus and Chlamydia can cause signs of eye and respiratory disease such as "red" or "pink" eye, sneezing, squinting, eye rubbing, exessive tearing, corneal ulcers, facial hairloss, and coughing.  Calicivirus attacks the mouth so we may see ulcers on the tongue, cheeks, and gums.  This disease is transmissible to cats.  Vaccination is recommended to prevent this disease.


Feline House Soiling- Some owners believe this to be a retaliative behavior of cats.  Cats have the capacity to exact revenge or to retaliate against people or other animals based on stress levels or irritation. House Soiling can be the effect of several different causes:

*A new pet, too many pets inside the house ( animals need their own personal spaces believe it or not), not enough litter boxes inside the home (number of cats + 1 = number of litterboxes needed), cat is sick, cat is stressed ( what doesn't stress you may stress your cat),  relative/friend moves in or out, new baby, parasites, new catfood, relocation, marking/dominance behavior, dislike of location of litterbox, stinky litterbox, dislike of type of litter, in-heat/puberty, psychologic disease, if another housemate is annoying the cat while its using the litterbox, the pathway to the litterbox is obstructed, litterbox edges are too high, mobility issues, or the desire to go/live outdoors, etc.

In any case you may want to investigate the problem and if you can't seem to resolve the problem, call us for an appointment.


Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease - This disease has several causes, where there may a single cause or a combination of causes.  Stress, Diet, New housepet (cat or dog), Changes in home environment(moving, construction, visitors, holiday seasons), Endocrine diseases like Diabetes mellitus, Hyperthyroidism, Kidney disease, and Feline Cushings's disease can cause FLUTD.  Also any infectious diseases and tumors (mostly malignant) can cause FLUTD as a sequelae.  Urinary crystals can also cause signs of FLUTD  as well.

Signs of FLUTD include inappropriate urination outside litterbox, frequent urination inside litterbox, crying when urinating, straining to urinate, licking belly or lower back excessively, unusual social behaviors, blood-tinged urine, hunched posture, low appetite, straining to have BM. **Any and all cats showing signs of urinary tract disease need to see us immediately. 


Feline Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma - This malignancy is the most common tumor in cats.  It can occur anywhere on the cat from the eyes to the gut.  Feline LSA can have non-specific signs like low /no appetite, vomiting, abnormal grooming habits, barbering, weight loss, and lethargy.  Sometimes there maybe a mass that can be visualized or felt by the owner or veterinarian.  We want to examine any and all masses discovered on your cat.  Options for treatment are tumor removal if it can safely be resected with chemo/radiation if your budget allows for this. 


Feline Marking-This behavior can be very frustrating and not to mention a smelly one. Cats may mark or seem to mark for various reasons.  A urinary tract infection is possible, puberty (as early as 4 mos for females and 6 mos for males), dominance issues, and territory marking.  Neutered males and females may still mark.  You may find urine marking on vertical surfaces such as walls, doors, front of sofas, or other upright furniture.  Some will mark right on the carpet or floor, and some go as far as to jump onto the kitchen counter and mark, especially if they spot an outdoor cat on your property.  You may see your cat back up to the surface to be marked and 'wring' its tail to where the tail is positioned straight up in a vertical fashion.  You must find the cause of such behavior. Sometimes spaying/neutering helps, letting the cat outdoors helps ( if this is an option), providing a less stressful environment, getting your cat's check up and worm check, or adding a Feline Pheromone to your home environment ( Feliway), which has a calming effect on your cat and discourages marking.


Feline Obesity - This usually occurs in cats who become or are sedentary in their lifestyles.  Some cats do become overweight after spay or neuter due to lack of sex hormones.  Cats, like dogs need exercise and proper nutrition to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Female cats should not be over 9-11 pounds depending on breed, and male cats should not exceed 14-18 pounds depeding on breed.  An exception would a healthy male Maine Coon that weighs 22lbs.

Diet - Depending on what your cat starting eating as a kitten may determine its preference on the type and consistency of food he or she prefers.  Some cats start out eating dry food and will not eat any other type of food.  Some prefer canned food, others prefer a raw diet, or a mix of dry/canned.  Either way, feeding your cat its preferred diet must be monitored in order to prevent obesity.  Ad lib or free-feeding is the most common method of feeding house cats.  This method allows cats to snack ALL DAY long.  Since cats are inate hunters, ad lib feeding makes cats lazy and inactive.  Canned or semi-moist diets force the owner to open a container and feed the cat a daily meal, which allows for better control of the cat's eating habits.  Some owners will leave a small amount of dry food for the cat to nibble while they're at work which is okay, as long as the cat can't make a meal off the dry food.  

Cat toys such as laser pointers, balls, etc can get your cat moving. Having a house mate such as another cat or understanding K9 companion can help to increase your cat's activity level.  Transitioning your cat to the outdoors is not an easy decision especially if you live in an apartment, or if your cat is declawed, or if there are a lot of strays or wildlife in your area.  If you have an area in your home such as a sunroom or screened-in porch/patio where your cat can visualize the outdoors, this can provide positive environmental enrichment for your cat, and may take its mind off eating.  If you feel comfortable enough to let your cat outdoors, make sure your feline is current on its vaccinations (Rabies, Fel Distemper, Fel Leukemia).

If your cat is overweight a diet change may be necessary to facilitate weight loss.  Switching your kitty to a canned food provides protein and hydration, and has a much lower carbohydrate content than dry food.  If your kitty won't eat canned food, then you may try feeding much smaller dry food portions or switching to a low-cal dry food.  There are also prescripton foods we can recommend to slim down your cat. (Hills Feline W/d, R/d, Purina Weight Management)


Feline Pancreatitis - This disease occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed or infected, which generally causes signs of gastrointestinal upset like anorexia, belly pain, vomiting, lack of BM, and gassy bowel.  FP can be caused by or can occur concurrently with Feline Diabetes, Hepatic Lipidosis, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  Special blood testing helps us to accurately diagnose this condition.


Fleas - A clearly difficult parasite to get rid of once they enter your home by way of a pet or by another person.  Fleas are what we call the 'Ultimate Recyclers' due to their survivorability in any environment where 'food' is available.  Fleas can survive anywhere there's a 'warm-blooded' host, be it a cat, dog, bird, wild animal, or human.  They can survive in the wintertime!  Fleas mate, the female takes a blood meal, lays her hundreds of eggs, the eggs hatch into larvae that feed on the female's blood-feces, larvae pupate, adults emerge and are ready for their next blood meal.  This cycle can take 1-2 weeks depending on availability of a 'meal'.  A cat or dog with a flea infestation can develop anemia due to blood loss. Fleas can also transmit infectious diseases such as Cat Scratch Disease which is transmissible to humans.

We recommend a monthly flea preventative such as Comfortis, Fel. Advantage Multi, or Fel.Revolution.  Please be careful using over-the-counter flea products for cats, as Permethrin/Pyrethrins can be toxic.  Dog topicals ARE  NOT for use on cats. Cats are not small dogs.


 Glaucoma - This disease occurs when the pressure inside the eyes increases.  It can be caused by infection, organ disease, mature cataracts, or overt eye disease.  Your cat's eyes may bulge, the cornea may seem cloudy or bluish, the eye may become red, squinting occurs, or loss of vision.  Every RED eye must be seen immediately.  If you think your cat is experiencing vision loss, urgent care is necessary.  We can diagnose glaucoma in our hospital with our TonoPen.  We would numb your cat's eyes and take readings.  If your cat is pre-glaucomatous or has glaucoma we will start treatment immediately. Glaucoma is not curable but it is treatable.  If it affects one eye, it will inevitably affect the other eye. With medication, we are trying to slow the progression of the disease.  If your cat does have glaucoma and its eyes are blind an painful, and medication is no longer working, enucleation (Removal of the eye) is the treatment.  If you cat's eyes are blind and 'quiet' no treatment is necessary, but consult us on this matter.


Hepatic Lipidosis - This disease is caused when the liver gets infiltrated with fat.  This can happen with obesity or when your cat loses an extreme amount in a very short period of time.  HL is a form of liver disease with signs of jaundice, anorexia, lethargy, orange-colored urine, belly pain, weight loss, and reluctance to move.  HL can be diagnosed by blood testing, urine testing, and Xrays. 


Hyperthyroidism - This is an endocrine disease of cats over 7 years old,  where due to an increase in the size of a cat's thyroid glands, they tend to produce more thyroid hormone than neccessary.  Signs of hyperthyroidism are increased/normal appetite with weight loss, irritability, excessive grooming, increased thirst/urination, frequent/more foul-smelling feces, difficulty breathing (usually due to heart disease/hypertension).  A simple blood test can screen your cat for this disease.  Treatment includes Methimazole(Tapazole), Prescription diet Hills Y/d, surgery to remove the diseased thyroid gland(we always biopsy these for cancer), or Radioactive Iodine Therapy(I-131) where the cat is treated at a specialty hospital for the disease.


Inflammatory Polyp - These polyps can be found in the middle ear canal or underneath the soft palate causing signs of upper respiratory disease, ear infections, a head tilt toward the affected side, nasal discharge, scratcing at the ears, problems swallowing, mild weight loss, and sneezing. Risk factors for this disease include upper respiratory disease caused by respiratory viruses, allergies, and bacterial infections.  This condition is usually diagnosed with an Xray and/or inspection of the ears or soft palate(with sedation).  Once the polyp is discovered, surgery and antiinflammatories are the treatments of choice.


Kidney(Renal) Disease-This disease can start with signs of lethargy, poor appetite, increased urination and increased thirst.  Renal disease in cats is generally an age-related/genetic disease that usually manifests after age 7 years old.  Since cats are natural predators, they hide their illnesses very well so by the time you notice that your cat is sick, it may have been sick for awhile. Your cat can be seemingly normal one day, and then one day later your cat is 'not doing right'.  The kidneys have several functions like converting Vitamin D, helping to make blood, controlling fluid balance, and filtering toxins.  Since signs of kidney disease/insufficiency can be nonspecific, we need to see your cat for any signs of poor appetite, lethargy, behavior changes, excessive grooming, weight loss etc. We will examine your kitty and perform labwork to help diagnose this disease and to treat it.  


Megacolon/Obstipation - This disease can start out as moderate to severe constipation.  Cats, especially medium and long-haired cats are susceptible to Megacolon/Obstipation, with Siamese breeds accounting for 30% of cases.  Megacolon is where the colon(large intestine) is stretched for various reasons which causes nerve stretching and dysfunction to where normal peristalsis is disrupted, and the colon fills with feces that the cat cannot pass. The cat becomes painful, starts to toilet outside its litterbox, has weight loss, depression, and lethargy.  We can examine your cat for this condition.  Your cat should have a BM at least once daily.   Signs of Megacolon/Obstipation are an enlarged abdomen, failure to pass feces or cat may be passing scant feces, straining in the litter box, urinating outside the litterbox, and a poor appetite.  


Parasites - Cats too can become infested and infected with parasites.  External parasites include: Mange, Fleas, Ticks, Lice, and  Biting Flies.  Internal parasites include:  Roundworm, Hookworm, Tapeworm, Coccidia, Toxoplasma, lungworm, Chiggers, Heartworms, and Liver Flukes.  Most of these parasites can be discovered via a yearly exam and by fecal evaluation.  Feline Heartworm is detected by a blood test.  We recommend yearly exams and fecals on every cat.


Rabies (Hydrophobia)- An infectious disease that is transmitted by a bite wound of an infected carnivore (cat, dog, bat, raccoon, coyote, skunk, fox) that can cause neurologic disease, mania, and death of an unvaccinated cat.  Rabies is transmissible to humans as well.  Once, bitten the cat may not show signs of Rabies for 10 days to 6 months depending on where that cat was bitten.  We have seen Rabies in kittens as young as 8 weeks old, so please beware of cuddly stray kittens.  In North Carolina, cats and dogs may be vaccinated for Rabies as early as 16 weeks old.  The first Rabies vaccination is a 1-yr vaccination, the following year it will be a 3-yr vaccination. If you or you cat gets bitten by an unvaccinated cat, wild animal, or any dog with an unknown vaccination history you may call us or Animal Control for more details.  We advise immediate medical attention for any animal bite.


Toxins - Cats are super-sensitive to the effects of toxic substances.  The most common toxins that  affect cats are Lillies(any type), Tylenol (Acetominophen), Xmas Tree Water, Xylitol (sugar alcohol in chewing gum, mints), Antifreeze, Lead, Rat/Mouse Poisons, and some Over-the-Counter Flea/Tick Preventatives. Plants are another source of toxins, especially Lillies, Dumbcane, Oleander, Ivy, and Poinsettia.  Please call us or Pet Poison Control to get advice/info in the event you witness or suspect your cat has been poisoned.  1-855.764.7661





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