Thursday, February 19, 2009

We Won!!!!

Thanks to the combined efforts of the CVMA, AVMA, veterinarians, pet owners, livestock owners, and friends of animals across the United States, Governor Schwarzenegger's ill-conceived plan to tax veteinary medical services has gone down to defeat. The proposal would have increased the cost of care by 10% and caused untold suffering in addition to jeopardizing food safety and public health. Thanks to all of our clients who helped with the phone and letter campaign.

We all need to be vigilant, however - the state budget could be revised in the future and we may have to fight this battle all over again. And there is still very quiet talk about removing the sales tax exemption from veterinary prescription drugs and diets.
CVMA especially deserves thanks for spearheading the opposition to this tax. You may email letters of appreciation to them at: Click on the "contact us" button in the upper left corner

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cornell's Videos: How to Give Your Cat Medication

A picture is worth a thousand words. Cornell Feline Health Center has been kind enough to develop and post a cat-pilling video.

I don't like to wrap my patients in a towel to pill them - most are fine without it. I will either scruff the back of the cat's head or grasp the whole head from above, depending on the cat's temperament. You just need to experiment with a few variables to see what works best in your individual case.

If you have to give several different pills, we carry gelatin capsules that you can often stuff everything into so you only have to pill the cat once.

Cornell also has a video on how to give a cat liquid medication:

I just have ONE question: How did we ever survive without the wonders of the internet??

Valentine's Day Reminder

Just a quick reminder that, even though chocolate has not been proven poisonous to cats, it is not an appropriate food for them. There is enough caffeine in it to get a cat into trouble. Dogs, of course, cannot metabolize the theobromine in chocolate, and can die if they eat much. It's best not to risk problems - keep those holiday chocolates out of kitty's reach!

If you receive any cut flowers, you should be aware that many are highly poisonous to cats. Lilies of all kinds are very toxic to cats' kidneys and have caused many deaths. Roses are not toxic, but they have probably been sprayed with many chemicals. Don't allow kitty to play with or chew on any flowers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Doctor's Pick - Cat Treats

I know, I know - I am always harping about not feeding junk to your cats. But it IS possible to indulge them in their wishes without getting into trouble.

First of all, avoid feeding your cat your own personal treats - human food is not a wise choice for kitties. That said, a tiny (and I mean TINY) bite of boiled or roast turkey or chicken once in a while is not going to cause problems. Just be sure that it has not been seasoned with garlic or onions, which are poisonous to cat and dog red blood cells. And NO, lunch meat turkey and chicken is NOT ok due to the garlic usually used for flavoring.

My favorite cat treats are Temptations brand made by Mars. Their chicken and turkey flavors are safe and appropriate, and their new All Natural chicken flavor is a HUGE hit with my own cats. They can be found at Target, most larger pet stores, Ralph's, and some drug stores.

My next favorite is Hill's Prescription Diet Hypoallergenic Cat Treats, which are particularly nice for cats with food allergies and sensitive tummies. They don't come in a "flavor" - they are just food flavored, I guess. My cats haven't told me the particulars. We carry them at Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic, though we are out of them at the moment (they have been backordered for a while). These treats are larger and harder than the Temptations, so they may not be appropriate for cats with dental issues or elderly cats with poor muscle tone (though Dusty loves them and she's 18).

When choosing a treat for your cat, I recommend avoiding those with ANY fish in them, and I also don't care for any with wheat gluten, though for occasional feeding this should not be a problem. Also, you should never feed your cat any freeze-dried meat treats because these have a long and sorry track record of Salmonella contamination, and freeze-drying is the preferred method for keeping bacterial cultures alive forever in microbiology labs.

Pet Insurance

We are often asked if we take pet insurance, and the answer is YES. But the process is a bit different from medical insurance for humans in that we do not "accept assignment", i.e. attempt to collect the claim from the insurer. The client is responsible for paying the charges, and then it is up to them to file a claim for reimbursement from the insurance company. We are happy to assist filling out the forms and will gladly sign them.

We don't make specific recommendations on insurance companies or policies, preferring to maintain strict neutrality to avoid any conflict of interest. We encourage clients to carry pet insurance and have brochures at the office for the three companies we know of that provide pet insurance plans:

Pets Best Insurance -
ASPCA Pet Insurance -
VPI Pet Insurance -

We strongly recommend that you either have an emergency savings fund to cover those unexpected medical problems, or a good insurance policy, and perhaps both. More importantly, be sure to do everything you can to prevent illness and injury in your pet: annual exam, appropriate vaccinations, high quality diet, dental care as indicated, spaying/neutering while young, indoor confinement, a cat-proof home, close attention to behavior, and prompt veterinary care in the event of any problems. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure when it comes to cats!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Doctor's Pick - Pet Carriers

The carrier you choose for your cat/rabbit/rat makes a big difference in how pleasant your trip to the veterinarian will be. We still see cats brought in to us in cardboard boxes, pillowcases, and those old semi-homemade plywood and hardware cloth jobs that weigh a ton. Some people load several cats into a large dog crate and then struggle to get it out of the car, into the clinic, down the hall, and into the exam room, where it takes up the entire floor. Cats brought in cardboard boxes have been known to escape onto the street and run away.

Here's how you can avoid this sort of misery:
The PetMate Two Door Deluxe cat carrier is versatile, and in my experience the very best carrier on the market for cats. The top door allows us to lift kitty out easily, or even administer some treatments right in the box. The front door allows the cat to walk right in or out if it is so inclined. It comes in two or three sizes and is the perfect solution for transporting your cat.

(For the record, I have no financial interest in making this recommendation. I do own one, and need to get another! They can be found at Petco and PetSmart, and probably other larger pet stores)

Rabbits may be safely transported in the same type of carrier.

Rats and other pocket pets should not be brought to the office in their housing structure. Please place them in a secure box with air holes, or one of the specially designed pocket pet totes made of clear plastic available at any pet store.

Oh, and last but not least, remember to put a folded terrycloth towel in the bottom of the cat's carrier to absorb and urine in case of accident, and put a paper towel or two in the bottom of the rat's tote.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February Is Pet Dental Health Month

Almost 80 percent of adults brush their teeth at least twice a day, according to the American Dental Association, but most completely ignore the dental health of their pets. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, sponsored in part by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

"More than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the time they're three years old. This can lead to serious health problems," explained Dr. Brook Niemiec, a board certified specialist in veterinary dentistry. "Make sure every veterinary checkup includes a thorough inspection of your pet's teeth and gums, and a discussion on how to keep them healthy and clean between visits."

The AVMA offers some more tips and information on how to keep your pet's teeth healthy:
Look for signs of tooth decay and oral disease by inspecting your pet's teeth regularly. Bad breath, discoloration and tartar are all indications of problems that could lead to serious health risks with the potential for not only damaging teeth and gums but internal organs.
Regular visits to your veterinarian should include a complete checkup of your pet's teeth. Your veterinarian should clean plaque and tartar off your pet's teeth (under anesthesia) if necessary. When tartar—created by the mixture of food debris, saliva and bacteria in the mouth—is allowed to build up it can accumulate between teeth and gums causing tooth loss, and result in an infection that could enter the bloodstream and spread to the heart or other internal organs.

Scrub your cat's teeth daily or at least weekly with a moistened cotton gauze square. While most cats will not immediately accept a dental hygiene regimen, it can be successfully introduced with patience, particularly if you start when the cat is young. Start slowly using plenty of praise and treats. Begin scrubbing in short intervals, working up to about 15-20 seconds a side.

To minimize dental problems, feed your cat crunchy food only. The abrasive texture of kibble can help keep teeth clean, while soft food can cling to your pet's teeth and lead to decay. Also consider crunchy treats, which also help clean teeth.

Rope toys that cats can chew are not only immensely entertaining for your pet, but also keep teeth clean and breath smelling fresh.

For more information on pet dental health, visit the Pet Dental Web site at, and for an audio release on this the importance of pet dental health, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association Web site Audio Library at and click "Audio Releases" in the left column.

Adapted from the AVMA press release on Pet Dental Health Month 2009