Sara Gardiner, DVM earned her BA from Connecticut College and her Veterinary degree from the University of California, Davis. She has a diverse clinical background in general practice, emergency and shelter medicine. Sara appreciates the unique needs of the feline patient and is pleased to become part of a feline-only practice. In the past she has participated in orphan kitten rescue groups and feline spay/neuter clinics. Her professional interests include internal medicine, ultrasound and urgent care.
We all struggle to find the right food for our cats. We want it to be high quality and at the same time please our furry companions. It is amazing how finicky some of our cats are. So what does cat food really taste like? Click on the link below and find out. One brave soul has actually tasted several brands and has posted her findings!
Just a Cat Doctor office update: Dr. Anne will be out of the office for the next month because of shoulder surgery. Please bear with us while our schedule is a little disrupted! Things should get back to normal during the second week of November. Dr. Anne hopes to be available by email during most of the next 4 weeks, but if you have an urgent question or problem, please call the office.
We are constantly stressing that cats need some places of their own to hang out in. These should have many nooks and crannies, and places to observe the world from on “high”. Some cat furniture is well built and long lasting, however, much is cheaply built and will shortly be destroyed by our furry friends. Why not use a material that can be replaced or recycled! My favorite is the lowly cardboard box. We have never had a cat ingest enough cardboard to create a problem. It is cheap, plentiful, and your imagination is the only limiting factor.
Here is a youtube link to get you started. You do not need to build this castle, but a few boxes in strategic places can really enrich a cat’s life.
Click on the url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI9W_VdV1l0&feature=share
In case you missed it this past week, Good Morning America had a feature on the use of lasers to treat arthritis in pets. We have been using laser therapy in both offices for several months now and we are also seeing good results This is a good, non-invasive treatment modality to help treat several inflammatory conditions.
Several studies have shown that the majority of our older cat population suffers from arthritis. Cats rarely sow outward signs of pain. Older cats simply stop utilizing their vertical world because it hurts to jump or climb up or down. They stop getting up on the bed or couch to socialize with their humans. They may have difficulty negotiating stairs. They may not be able to get to their litter box area. If you have noticed any of these signs, then your cat may benefit from laser therapy.
If you would like to see the GMA segment, here is the URL: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/humane-society-details-cutting-edge-treatment-16760704
This time of year we are always so happy to see the trees, flowers, and the grasses spring to life. So much beauty! Such a rebirth! So Many sneezes! Allergies affect us all, and that includes your feline friend. This time of year, we see many cats with sneezes and wheezes, watery eyes, itchy ears, and some with skin eruptions, all due to allergies. Yes, our furry felines suffer from allergies just like us.
Most cats are allergic to more than one thing. However it takes just one thing, for them to cross the allergy threshold and start to exhibit symptoms. Tree pollen, such as Maple is at a very high level right now. This high level may just be the thing needed to push an allergic cat into displaying symtoms. Even indoor cats get exposed to pollens through open doors and windows, or their owner, who has been outdoors all day.
Some cats get weepy eyes and sneeze just like us. Some even end up with secondary Herpes flare-ups from allergies. Some cats get very itchy ears with small red, itchy spots in that bald area just in front of their ears. Many cats who are sensitive to foods as well as pollens, can break with extensive skin disease. Since a cat is a natural self-groomer, this can lead to over-grooming, hair loss, and self-trauma.
We all suffer at varying levels during allergy season. When do you need to consult with us about you cat’s allergies? If your cat is not acting normally, ie lack of appetite, lethargy, or has colored discharge from the eyes or nose, we should be consulted. Any time your cat has areas of inflamed skin or seems unusually itchy, we should be consulted. Treatment is usually symptomatic just as in us humans. However, cats that have severe disease may need additional diagnostics and treatments to make them more comfortable.
If the allergies are mild, such as some sneezes, slightly watery eyes, or mildly itchy ears, we usually just wait for the weather to change and see if the symptoms subside. Cats are not complainers, so if they are not eating normally, or if symptoms persist, call for an appointment.
Have you noticed that your cat is a little bonkers lately? Or maybe the peace and quiet that normally pervades your multiple cat household has been rift with more screams and chasing lately? Well Cats have spring break too! This time of year most cats are experiencing spring fever just like the rest of us.
Cats are very photosensitive animals. Decreasing daylight causes intact females to slow down or even shut off estrus or heat cycles. No sense in having a litter of kittens born at Christmas time and then freeze over the long winter! Most cats get that “hunker down for winter” mentality in the fall. Conversely, as the days start to lengthen in February and March, females begin heat cycles and males start to claim larger territories. Even though your cats are neutered, their brains still recognize these changes and territorial issues will arise with our indoor cats.
Many cats feel stress during this time of year, and stress related diseases such as Herpes virus infections and urinary tract issues are common in the early spring. You do want to make sure that in the multiple cat household, everyone is respecting the others’ space and territory. If there seems to be constant “nagging” of one cat towards another, enforcing a routine amount of “alone time” can go a long way in defusing some situations. Establishing an area of the house for one cat to have exclusive territory can reduce the likely hood of inappropriate elimination problems. Making sure that each cat has the opportunity to use the litter-box without confronting other cats is a must.
We often see cats this time of year with conjunctivitis and upper respiratory symptoms. This can be secondary to allergies, just like us humans, or often it is a flare up of their own herpes virus infections. Stress allows the herpes virus to multiply and it re-infects the eyes and nose of many cats. Some of these cats do need the symptoms treated to keep them comfortable and eating well.
There are outdoor influences that can affect your indoor cat. Outdoor cats that are claiming larger territories can often come up on decks or window sills and threaten your indoor cat. This can be intimidating for a cat that rarely or never interacts with another cat. Some cats will start to mark territory in a house just because an outside cat has approached. It is important to try and keep aggressive cats away from windows and decks with sliding glass doors from which they can attack.
We all enjoy these lovely days of spring! Remember that your cats might need some extra attention this time of year. An increase in play time will help use up some of their increased activity. We all need to show our cats what behaviors are deemed acceptable and avoid the ones that cause trouble! Chasing the laser pointer dot should be a routine part of every cat’s activity time, but remember to have it lead to some food so they finally get to catch and eat it! We want them to enjoy the Spring-time hunt!
Cats and Nutrition: Cats are Carnivores
Cat owners frequently have many questions about what to feed their pets. The pet store, grocery store, and even convenience store have a dizzying variety of dry, moist, canned and pouch-style foods made for a wide variety of lifestyle situations. It’s no wonder that people become confused when there are hundreds of foods to choose from!
When choosing a food for your pet, it is important to get your veterinarian’s input. It’s also important to carefully consider the natural history of the cat species and think about what cats are designed to eat in the wild. Cats are strictly carnivorous animals, and aside from munching on a little grass, which has no nutritional value, they eat other animals. This is a very high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet with a moderate amount of fat (as long as their prey animals are well-fed!)
Thousands of years of eating this diet have shaped the cat’s metabolism to be as efficient as possible, but some of those adaptations make it very difficult for a cat to survive on alternate food sources. For example, cats, like all animals, use protein in their food to build body proteins such as muscle tissue and blood components. However, because protein is so abundant in their natural diet, they also break down proteins into amino acids that are then converted to sugar for energy. People and dogs have the capacity to do this when protein is abundant in the diet, but also have the capacity to shut down this pathway when protein is scarce. Cats do not have this option, and will continue to break down protein for energy when they are starving or on a low-protein diet, and so they begin to cannibalize their own tissue protein for energy. This can occur even if their overall calorie intake is sufficient.
Cats also require several amino acids (building blocks of protein) that are only found in animal protein, such as taurine, arginine, methionine, and cysteine. They have lost the ability to make these amino acids because they are abundant in their natural diet. Attempting to feed cats a vegetarian diet can result in dangerous deficiencies unless supplements are carefully added to the diet.
Cats have limited amounts of the enzymes found in the digestive tract and liver to digest and process carbohydrates in their diet. Increased amounts of carbohydrate in the diet leads to rapid swings in blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes, but it also leads to the excess carbohydrates being stored as fat.
Cats normally take in a moderate amount of fat in their carnivorous diet, which they rely on for energy, but also for the building blocks of cell membranes, certain chemicals which cells use to signal each other, hormones, and skin oils. They are unable to make certain fatty acids, since they expect to be able to obtain them in their food.
When we take all of these evolutionary adaptions into account, it becomes obvious that we should be trying to feed cats a diet that most closely matches what they would be eating in the wild. The commercial foods that most closely fit this description are canned and pouch foods. When choosing a food for your cat, the most important thing to do is to read the fine print on the label. A scan of the label on a canned or pouch (wet) food should reveal that the primary ingredients are meat, poultry, and/or fish and their byproducts. Further down the list, you may see a small amount of carbohydrate thickener, such as guar gum, seaweed, tapioca starch, or wheat gluten. (Wheat gluten was the subject of the food recall two years ago—it seems safe now, but many people choose to avoid it anyway.) Beyond that, you should see a list of the vitamins and minerals that are added to food to make it a complete and balanced diet. You should try to avoid ingredients like rice, corn, soy, or wheat in canned food, even if the manufacturer uses whole grains to make it sound healthy.
Feeding your cat canned food will help make sure that he is receiving the proper amount of protein to maintain his muscles and keep him healthy. It also provides the fat he needs for a healthy coat, and low carbohydrates to prevent obesity. It will help keep his blood sugar levels steady to stave off diabetes, but also to help him feel more satisfied with amount of food you are providing. Feeding canned food has the added benefit of providing moisture in the diet, which helps to support a healthy urinary tract and prevent kidney disease.
A small amount of dry food per day can help provide cats with the satisfying “crunch” they love and may provide some benefit for their teeth, but the supply of this higher-carbohydrate food should be limited to prevent obesity. It can be helpful to think of dry food as being the cat equivalent of potato chips—a small portion per day can be part of a healthy diet, but having a bowl available at all times would lead most of us to a larger waistline! Talk to your veterinarian about the right portions of canned and dry food that would be healthy for your cat.
The Cat Doctor is pleased to announce a new therapeutic modality for arthritis, wound healing, and acupuncture. This non-invasive treatment is Low Energy Photon Therapy (LEPT) or “cold laser”. Treatment is performed with a Class III therapeutic laser which generates no heat in the tissues but does stimulate the damaged cells to regenerate more rapidly. Thus cell repair is accelerated and increased circulation to the damaged area is stimulated. This therapy has been shown to decrease pain, decrease inflammation, and speed healing.
One of the main areas we will be using this for is the treatment of osteoarthritis in the older cat. Medications to help arthritic cats are limited due to difficulty with administration and many have potential side effects. Nutritional supplements such as Glucosamine and Omega 3’s help with joint health but do nothing for pain relief. We feel that laser therapy will help with both pain relief and reduction of inflammation, while eliminating the need to constantly “medicate” the patient at home.
We will also be using laser therapy post surgically to reduce pain and speed healing. This includes orthopedic surgery, soft tissue surgery, and even after some extensive dental procedures.
Another use of laser treatment will be Acupuncture done with the laser instead of needles. Our feline patients rarely have the patience to sit still for traditional needle administered acupuncture. However with the laser, it is a totally non-invasive pain free procedure. Dr Jan Belmonte will be offering acupuncture in The Bedford office as an adjunctive treatment for several medical conditions.
Laser treatment is quick and pain free. Most cats either enjoy the treatment or don’t realize they are receiving it. Most treatment regiments will require two treatments per week for the first two weeks and then either weekly or on an as needed basis. Treatments will be performed by our trained staff and last about ten minutes. Improvement is usually seen after the first or second treatment. Our patient response to treatment has been very good and we have decided to purchase laser therapy units for both offices. For now, acupuncture is only available at the Bedford office.
For more information, please call the office and discuss with us if your cat could benefit from this new treatment.