Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Say "NO!" to a tax on veterinary medical services

Governor Schwarzenegger wants to raise millions by adding a tax on veterinary services. This will be reflected directly on YOUR BILL at the end of every visit to your veterinarian.

On November 6, 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for an increase in the California state sales tax to address the multi-billion dollar deficit in the budget, and proposed a sales tax on all veterinary services. This was part of a larger combination of program cuts and revenue increases to balance the state budget.

This proposal could add approximately 9% to the cost of veterinary care. Many animals won’t get the necessary medical care and treatment they deserve because veterinary services will be more expensive. Pets are part of our families and a lot of families are already facing financial hardship in this weak economy. Increasing the cost of veterinary care will only lead to more animals being abandoned, or euthanized. It’s not fair for your pets to suffer because the state cannot balance its budget.

Here’s what you can do to help stop the tax on veterinary services!

Write letters, make phone calls, send emails, or fax your comments to the Governor and to your elected officials. If writing, try to personalize your letter and be brief. Let them know that pets are family members and this proposed tax will add a huge financial burden to your family. Ask that veterinary services be removed from the Governor’s proposal.

If you need assistance, go to the California Veterinary Medical Association website at for additional facts and contact information. It is important that every pet owner be heard. Please take action today for your pets and write a letter. The Governor wants his proposal passed by the end of November so he needs to hear from you now!

Thank you!

How to Feed Your Cat - Part 1

Few people appreciate just how critical proper nutrition is to our feline friends. A significant number of my patients present with medical problems that have their roots in an incorrect diet.

Domestic cats are the direct descendants of Felis libyca, the desert wildcat of North Africa, the Negev, and Arabia. In this environment, the primary food sources for the cat were birds, reptiles, small rodents, and insects. You may note that fish are not on the list - nor should they be. Water is genuinely scarce in the Sahara, as are fish.

So as one might suspect, the healthiest protein source for cats is poultry (analogous to small birds and reptiles), with beef (analogous to mice/rats) a close second. Lamb and other novel proteins are not the best first choice, and fish is completely inappropriate from a biological standpoint.

My first bottom line recommendation for a maintenance diet in cats is that it NOT contain fish. Fish oil itself is a valuable nutrient, but fish flesh or fish meal is problematic. While healthy for us humans to eat, fish is implicated in (and I believe it to be directly causative of) a large percentage of the lower urinary tract disease, skin disease, and gastrointestinal disease I see at Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic.

The second bottom line recommendation I make for a cat food is that it be tested for nutritional adequacy. Anybody can throw together a cat food that looks perfectly acceptable on paper according to the guaranteed analysis and other numerical data, but that diet could have serious problems with nutrient bioavailability. Because of this, we only recommend maintenance foods that have the following statement of nutritional adequacy on the label (known as the AAFCO Statement):

"Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of food) provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult cats."

The best kitten foods have a similar statement pertaining to growth of kittens and maintenance of pregnant and lactating females.

There may be times in a cat's life when we need to feed it a diet that violates these two guidelines in the interest of special needs during illness. And if a cat has been happily enjoying a food which contains fish without adverse consequences (that is otherwise an excellent food) for years there may not be any need to switch. But in general you can't go wrong by following this basic advice.

Several kibble foods which as of this writing meet these criteria are:

*Science Diet - any flavor/variety kibble not containing fish on ingredient list
*Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care Indoor - any flavor not containing fish
*Max Cat Adult Roasted Chicken
*Purina One Special Care Sensitive Systems
*Costco Kirkland

Next time I'll address the dry food vs canned food issue and my recommendations about that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Your First Visit

Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic is always happy to welcome new clients and patients. We have a few suggestions to help make your cat's first examination as pleasant and productive as possible.

1) Plan to arrive about ten minutes before your scheduled office visit. We will need to set up your file and review any accompanying medical records.

2) Bring kitty (or bunny or ratty) in a secure pet carrier. Your pet needs to be safe inside your car just like a child would be. Once inside the waiting room, you will ensure its continued safety, and that of our other clients and patients, by keeping the carrier closed and on the floor while waiting to enter the exam room.

3) You will need to fill out a client information form with name, address, telephone number, employer (if any), and alternate phone number (i.e. cell). California law requires that we obtain this information and keep it in your file so we ask for your cooperation.

4) We accept payment in the form of cash, personal or business check, Master Card, and Visa. Payment is due at the time of services received. If we need to hospitalize your sick or injured pet, you will be asked to pay a deposit. We always discuss charges in advance of hospitalization and provide an estimate form. We do NOT bill.

5) If you are seeking a second opinion, please bring a copy of your cat's complete medical record with you or have it faxed to us. This is EXTREMELY important. For young or newly obtained cats, please bring copies of whatever vaccination records you have (from breeder, animal shelter, prior owner) so we can evaluate your individual pet's needs.
Welcome to the website of Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic and Gayle Robison, DVM! This blog is a work in progress, so bear with us while we put it together. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to discuss them with Dr. Robison the next time we see you or have a phone chat.