Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Hours

In observation of the New Year we will be taking a little time off this weekend. Office hours will be:

Friday Dec. 31 - 8 AM - noon only
Saturday Jan. 1 - CLOSED
Sunday Jan. 2 - CLOSED

Regular hours will resume Monday Jan. 3. Have a safe and happy New Year!

MT wildlife expert offers raccoon advice

I found this piece online that discusses some of the dangers raccoons can pose to public health. While we don't have raccoon rabies here in Southern California, the local raccoons can and do carry the very dangerous raccoon roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis, which is not mentioned in the very brief piece by a tv station (typical!).

Don't let raccoons set up a latrine on your property. If they do, clean it up using good hygiene to minimize the risk to human and animal health. Baylisascaris can infect and kill perfectly healthy humans and their pets.

Wikipedia entry on B. procyonis

B. procyonis factsheet from Wisconsin's DHS

Monday, December 27, 2010


When Hormone Creams Expose Others to Risks

Dr. Richard Fried, owner of the Lincoln Square Veterinary Hospital in Manhattan, said he recently saw two cats that seemed to go back into heat after spaying by a different vet. Tests in one cat showed high blood levels of estrogen, but before he could spay it again, the cats’ breeder suggested that the culprit might be the owner’s hormone treatment.

“We are always warning pet owners to be careful about their medications,” Dr. Fried said. “But this is a much more insidious kind of problem that most people don’t think about.”

"Dr. Stuenkel says women should be counseled about safe use of the drugs.

"After using a topical hormone cream, they should thoroughly wash their hands before handling food, children or pets. Products should dry completely before the user comes into contact with people or animals, and women may want to consider changing the area where they apply the cream or covering it with long sleeves or slacks."

I haven't seen any suspected cases of this. Yet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

How to Rescue Orphaned Kittens

My own experience with rescuing tiny kittens is rather limited (and there was that one bottle baby years ago that became psychotic as a result of inadequate cat-to-cat interaction that I regret), but some veterinarians are better with that whole complicated, energy-sapping deal. Here's an excellent article on the subject with tips from a pro.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why the Deaf Have Enhanced Vision

"Deaf people with enhanced vision can thank otherwise idle brain cells for their heightened sense, a new study in cats suggests.

"That's because the brain recruits cells normally devoted to hearing to help them see better, the research revealed.

"The brain is very efficient and it's not going to let this huge territory that is the auditory cortex and all the processing that it has go to waste," said study leader Stephen Lomber of Canada's University of Western Ontario. The auditory cortex is the part of the brain that controls hearing.

"So it makes sense that other senses will come in and colonize."

Here's the BEST part: "....the research could lead to improved cochlear implants that target specific regions of the auditory cortex, such as the part involved in understanding speech...."

Read the entire fascinating National Geographic article here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Abnormal urination could be sign of medical or behavorial issue for cat

Here's an excellent article about the significance of abnormal urination in cats and why it should never be simply written off as "the way cats are". The author is a veterinarian, which is what I like to see in articles about feline health (as opposed to being authored by lay journalists who may not be able to address medical issues coherently or may just get their facts wrong).

"Abnormal urination is a common problem in felines. Symptoms center on urinating in inappropriate places, but problems can also include spraying, increased frequency of urination, straining to urinate, inability to urinate, and the presence of blood, bacteria, pus or crystals in the urine. If the underlying cause is not addressed, the patient can become very ill.

"The key to resolving this matter is to determine if this is a medical or behavioral issue. Both categories occur frequently, but the treatment differs.

"Your veterinarian will want to know:
» When this problem started,
» Frequency and type of symptoms.
» Water consumption.
» Appetite, energy and weight.
» How many cats are present in or around the household.
» Information about the litter and litter box.
» Stressful household changes.

"Lab work will minimally include a blood panel and urinalysis. Other diagnostics may include a urine culture, X-ray or ultrasound.

"Medical causes for abnormal urination can include diabetes, kidney disease, cystitis, a urinary tract infection, a kidney infection, urinal crystal formation, urinary stone formation, kidney stones and cancer."

I'm going to add an important request: when bringing your cat in for evaluation of urinary problems (or ANY illness for that matter), if it has been seen by another veterinarian for that problem within the past couple of years, please bring with you a complete compy of the prior medical record so we can offer a VALID second opinion rather than guessing at what has been done/seen previously.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Hours

I am making my Christmas pilgrimage to the frozen wastelands of the Upper Midwest again this year and will be gone from Wednesday Dec.22 through Tuesday Dec.28. The office will be open for administrative purposes only (scheduling appointments, calling with questions, picking up food and medications) while I am gone. Hours will be:

Wed. Dec.22 8 AM - noon, 5-6 PM
Thurs. Dec.23 9 AM - noon, 5-6 PM
Fri. Dec.24 9 AM - noon only
Sat. Dec.25 and Sun. Dec.26 CLOSED
Mon. Dec.27 9 AM - noon, 5-6 PM
Tues. Dec.28 CLOSED
Regular hours resume Wednesday Dec.29
We will also be closed New Year's Eve (PM) and New Year's Day.

If you have a medical emergency while I am gone, contact Veterinary Specialists of the Valley. They are open 24/7 and can provide critical care needs while I am gone - they do NOT provide primary care (vaccinations, routine minor care, routine lab testing, routine surgery, etc).

If your pet has a non-critical need, contact Capri Plaza Pet Clinic. They are open week days and Saturday like we normally are.

If you need a copy of your record faxed anywhere, call the office during the above hours to make your request. No one will be checking phone messages and doing that sort of thing outside office hours.

Bird lovers see roaming cats as a major threat to many species

Found this article in the Washington Post about the impact of feral cats on wild birds, and it's not pretty.

"In the recent oil spill, fewer than 10,000 birds were killed in the Gulf [of Mexico] that we know of," said Steve Hutchins of the Bethesda-based Wildlife Society. "But literally millions of migratory birds are killed every year by feral and free-roaming pet cats. It's a serious environmental problem."

"This is, as Marra realizes, "a charged issue." For gardeners seeking to attract cardinals, chickadees and goldfinches with feeders, baths and bird-friendly plantings, the sight of a neighbor's cat stalking and killing these feathered friends can be extremely upsetting. Cat owners, however, believe their pets need to be outside and that having a bell on their collar will warn birds of their approach.


The number of pet cats in the United States has tripled in the past four decades, and each outdoor cat kills between four and 54 birds a year, according to wildlife biologists Nico Dauphiné and Robert J. Cooper in a review paper published last year by the bird conservation consortium Partners in Flight. They estimated that at least one billion birds are killed by cats annually, "and the actual number is probably much higher."

"Two-thirds of all bird species are in decline in the U.S.," said Steve Holmer, a policy adviser with the American Bird Conservancy in Washington. "Cats are a contributing factor."

I am a big fan of wild birds (and the natural environment as a whole) so I cringe at the idea of our beloved kitties having such a negative impact on birds, who have got enough troubles these days without being cat lunch.

One more reason to keep kitties indoors, along with the whole "keeping dry" thing we are having to consider these days.......

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fewer cats live beneath Atlantic City Boardwalk as volunteers help reduce population by half

Things are looking up for the stray cats of Atlantic City, NJ. It seems a trap/neuter program there over the past ten yours has lowered the feral cat population along the boardwalk by 50%.


"Atlantic City's chapter of Alley Cat Allies is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, having worked with the government since 2000 to keep feral colonies under control and educate people about how they contribute to the problem. It is common in resort areas for people to leave behind their pets at the end of their visits, with barrier island towns along Long Beach Island and down to Sea Isle City and Wildwood all having a history of strays roaming their streets.

"They pack up their cars and whatever doesn't fit they leave behind," said Amanda Casazza, a project manager for Alley Cat Allies.

"Decreasing feral cat numbers is not only a public health and animal welfare concern, but is also part of the overall effort to make the tourist destination more attractive."

We also have a terrible feral/stray cat problem here in Los Angeles, like any city. Though I am not a fan of the "release" part of trap/neuter/release, it is important to engage the community in addressing these issues and the rescue groups do a fair job of that, and help with educational efforts to make cat abandonment/neglect less of a problem.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Safety, Etc.

It's that time of year again, and we need to remind clients of the many household dangers to cats that are unique to this time of year. I posted about this two years ago (I have been blogging two years??).

If you are looking to give kitty a holiday gift or two, remember to choose toys carefully. Avoid playing with anything involving string, thread, yarn, ribbon, newspaper ties etc. Catnip mice are always lots of safe fun. Toys made of sisal rope are NOT a good idea - I have seen one cat die as a result of ingesting this tough indigestible fiber. Our Pancake really loves her fuzzy little creatures (similar to these)- she can easily pick them up and carry them around, which she can't do with larger, heavier toys. And sometimes the best toy is just a cardboard box with a couple of doors cut into it.

Pointsettia WILL make your cat vomit so much it will need a trip to the vet, which can get costly on a holiday weekend, so let people who don't have cats display them, or keep yours where no kitties can get near it.

I will be out of town for a full week over the Christmas holiday so plan your visits accordingly. I'm leaving the 22nd and will be back to work on the 29th. The office will be open short hours while I am gone and Alison will be here to help you with your medication and food needs and scheduling appointments. Emergency care is available at VSV. If you have routine needs that can't wait until I get back, Capri Plaza Pet Clinic is the nearest alternate day practice to us.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cat Diaries

Sometimes the giant corporations that are taking over the world actually do something cool, as this clever little video demonstrates. Cat Diaries: The First Ever Movie Filmed By Cats just appeared on ICHC. It's absolutely enchanting!

Click on the hyperlink - I can't seem to get the video thingie directly embedded in the post.

This doesn't mean I am going to start recommending Friskies, however.

Seagull Rodeo At The Cat Hospital

Mondays in veterinary practice are often pretty exciting, and today is proving to be right up there with the best. We started out with two office visits and an emergency walk-in, involving three blood draws, one sedation, a major bath, two very worried owners, and three unhappy cats.

Then Alison stepped out back for a break, and a minute later called me on her cell phone.

"Dr. Robison, there's a (unintelligible) with a (unintelligible) leg out back!!!"


"There's a seagull with a broken leg here!!"

Alison was particularly difficult to understand because of her panic-induced fast speech pattern. You see, she's terrified of birds. And we did indeed have a very large injured seagull at the back door.

Apparently over the weekend, said seagull arrived here by means unknown. It has a limp, and can't fly. I am not qualified to come to any conclusions about what is actually wrong with it, because other than chickens, I didn't study birds in vet school (avian medicine was an elective). But I know when they need help.

We called the California Wildlife Center , but because he was loose they didn't really want to come out. So we got a big cardboard box from the printer next-door, recruited the proprietor (who had been feeding him scraps over the weekend) and had us a little roundup out in the Papa John's parking lot. After a couple of minutes of running back and forth and shouting and throwing the box toward him as he scurried away, I finally got him against the chain link fence along the alley and pinned him in the box. With the lid in place he was secured and brought into the hospital.

We called the wildlife people again, let them know he was ready for transport to their rehab facility, and are awaiting their arrival. The lid is taped in place and the box is in Room 1 with the doors shut so Alison can get over her panic (she is a complete aviophobe, or whatever you call a terrible fear of birds).

I'd post a photo of him, but he's in the box.

ETA: The correct term for Alison's problem is "ornithophobia". It has manifested before - when she was new here, somebody brought in an injured sparrow and I had her drive it (in a box) out to the wildlife rehabbers in Calabasas for me, not knowing how badly they scared her. I felt bad for her, but she handled it like a trooper and then quietly went home and had a meltdown.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Animal Bite Reporting

I just got off the phone with a woman whose husband was just bitten by their son's cat, a patient of mine. In addition to advising her that he should see his physician promptly, I told her of my obligation to report the bite to the health department. She wasn't happy to hear that, but the law is quite clear in these things. And because the cat was indoor/outdoor and its vaccination status unknown as of the only visit to me in September, this could very well end badly for the cat. Quarantine or immediate euthanasia for rabies testing are the only two options.

To complicate matters, the owner's mother hates the cat, is insistent that it be euthanized without any involvement of the health department, and refused to provide me with the bite victim's name to aid in my reporting obligation. This, despite her near-hysterical concern about the possibility of her husband contracting some disease from the cat.

Veterinarians have a duty to work closely with public health authorities to minimize the risk of zoonotic diseases in humans. But we need the unconditional and complete cooperation of pet owners in order to do so. It is most unhelpful to refuse medical treatment of parasites, refuse vaccinations, allow your pet outdoors in spite of said lack of vaccinations and parasite control, refuse to cooperate with measures designed to keep you safe and healthy, and then verbally upbraid the one person who is working overtime to protect you from your bad decisions.

Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health has an excellent online portal for animal bite reporting. Anyone who is aware of an animal bite has an obligation to do so, not just the physician or veterinarian involved. The purpose of this reporting is to ensure that no rabid animals slip through the cracks, resulting in needless human rabies deaths.

My biggest concern in this case now is that the owner's mother will take the cat elsewhere for euthanasia, withhold information about the recent human bite, and in doing so allow the cat to go untested. This will then, because I have already reported the bite, lead to mandatory rabies treatment for not only the bite victim but everyone else who handled the cat in the past 10 days. Expensive, inconvenient, painful, and perhaps completely unnecessary.

Just yesterday, LAVPH emailed me with an update on the bat rabies situation this year, and it's not good. They have diagnosed rabies in over 20 bats locally in 2010, more than double the normal number. If your cat goes outdoors AT ALL, it is at risk. And even if it never goes outdoors it is not at zero risk because rabid bats do get into homes all the time. So it's time for another shameless plug: VACCINATE YOUR CAT FOR RABIES EVERY YEAR REGARDLESS OF ITS LIFESTYLE.

Only YOU can prevent gastric ulcers and forehead bruising in your veterinarian.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Infectious Disease Considerations For Fostering Pets

Scott Weese, DVM over at Worms & Germs has another excellent post about the things you need to think about if you are considering, or currently doing, any fostering of dogs or cats.

Many of our clients do some fostering or cats/kittens,and it is important to spend a little time considering the potential disease risks to other pets in the home AND humans. But it's just as important to not get excessively worried to the extent that foster homes become less available.

As Scott puts it so well:

"Fostering is a good way to reduce pressures on humane societies and shelters, and to provide better care for some animals, like pregnant animals or those with young kittens/puppies. A good fostering program can be set up with limited risk to all involved, but infectious disease risks can never be completely eliminated. By accepting a new animal into your house, you increase the risk of exposing yourself and anyone else (human or animal) to infectious diseases. That's just a fact of life."

And speaking of fostering: we are still fostering Little Miss(ed) Pancake here at the hospital. This weekend she was allowed to have free run of the middle of the hospital when nobody was here to supervise. She did well until last night, when she figured out how to get up onto the counters in the lab and knocked a soap dispenser and some other things over. She is adjusting well to the increased freedom, but SHE REALLY NEEDS A PERMANENT HOME.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How A Cat Drinks

I don't normally post articles from the Washington Post here - they tend to be a little dry from a veterinary perspective. But this article on the fluid dynamics of how cats drink was actually pretty interesting.

In a nutshell: "the cat, in effect, balances the forces of gravity against the forces of inertia, and so quenches its thirst".

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Little Miss(ed) Pancake Needs A Home

You may recall how a stray kitten was brought in to us a couple of weeks ago after colliding with the wheel of a passing car. She had a head injury and some cuts and scrapes and bruises, from which she has completely healed.

Little Miss(ed)Pancake (called that because she just missed becoming a pancake) is 10 weeks old, using her litter box uneventfully, plays normally with people and toys, and loves to lie in your lap and sleep. She has been dewormed and vaccinated once against FVRCP, and is ready to go to a new home.

Unfortunately, the kind man who saved her life by bringing her in has not followed through with his plan to adopt her, so we are putting her on the open market. Please contact the front desk to arrange to meet her if you are interested. We will be insisting that she be kept 100% indoors, and that she go to a home with another cat (she obviously misses having her mom/littermates around). She will need two more visits for preventive care over the next 2 months, and will need to be spayed after that.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Safety

Just a quick reminder to keep kitties indoors as much as possible this weekend and especially Sunday night. There will be lots of strangers on the loose, and cats can get frightened and disoriented, and wind up lost or stuck in somebody's garage. The risk of being hit by car is also greater when cats are distracted or frightened.

Have a Happy Halloween, and don't eat too much candy! If you have extra or leftover chocolate, we can help solve that little problem, by the way.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Now that it's flu season, a request

That time of year is upon us again, when people start coming down with all sorts of nasty viruses. Alison and I both managed to pick one up at the same time this week, and I think I even know who it was. This caused half a day of lost work (and a ruined day off) for Alison, and 1 1/2 days of missed work for me.

PLEASE, if you are ill with something you suspect is contagious, stay home unless it is absolutely imperitive that you go out and about. The close quarters of an exam room is a perfect place to spread your viruses - just think how close our heads get when I am examining your cat. And also think how often I handle your carrier or other possessions in the process - these fomites also help to spread illness.

Just remember this: contagious diseases are CONTAGIOUS.

Oh, and H1N1 flu, which can kill cats, is still out there.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Donations Needed - Charity Case

Somebody I know in VA has a cat that needs I131 treatment to cure its hyperthyroidism because it CANNOT take methimazole. The treatment is estimated at about $1300. I figure if we can find 130 people around the US to give $10 each, nobody will even notice the dent in their wallets.

Donations for the care of the cat "Delenn" (owner's name Mary ___) may be sent to Radiocat at: Radiocat, 6651-F Backlick Rd., Springfield, VA 22150

You can speak to Lynn on staff there - she is coordinating the effort. 703-451-8900

If you have any more questions you can call and ask me and I can contact the cat's owner online but this case is legitimate. She is on a fixed income due to a permanent disability.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

FDA warns pet owners about buying online pet meds

Source: Paw Print Post

"Buyer beware, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns Tuesday with this video and announcement, especially when it comes to ads that say you don't need a veterinarian's prescription. You could kill a dog, for instance, that has heartworms by giving it heartworm meds and kill cats and small dogs by giving them certian tick and flea meds.

"We've had other posts about what safety labels to look for when buying online drugs. Some online dealers are reputable, but Patty Khuly, a veterinarian who writes a column for USA TODAY, suggests it's really most safe to get drugs from your vet.

"Maybe when you go looking for a vet you could inquire about prices of medications. I'm lucky. Turns out my vet has the best prices for meds.

"FDA reported Tuesday it has found companies that sell unapproved pet drugs and counterfeit pet products, make fraudulent claims, dispense prescription drugs without requiring a prescription, and sell expired drugs. A copy of the information you can print out can be found on their website."

I have cautioned clients for years about buying supposed bargain pet medications online because we have known for eyars about the risk of buying counterfeit products. But there are a lot of other reasons to avoid these shysters.

We currently only recommend one online source for medications and use them for a lot of our compounded specialty medications: VetCentric.

Here's a direct link to the FDA's PDF on buying pet medications online.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tuesday is World Rabies Day

Public health veterinarians and the veterinary community at large are observing the 4th annual World Rabies Day tomorrow, September 28. This terrible and universally fatal disease still kills an average of 55,000 people around the world every year. Fortunately, human rabies cases in the US are minimal, but that is in large part because of aggressive animal vaccinations and leash laws, and ongoing educational efforts to keep the public and the medical community informed.

AVMA has an excellent new podcast of an interview of Dr. Lynne White-Shim, assistant director of the AVMA’s Scientific Activities Division about rabies in the world today. The Global Alliance for Rabies Control has this excellent series of videos about rabies which you can use to teach your families and children about the problem and how to minimize risk.

We strongly encourage that all cats, regardless of personal circumstances, receive annual rabies vaccinations. There is really only one valid reason not to, and that is if the cat is actively fighting an acute bacterial or viral infection and has had a fever within a week or so. Los Angeles County is reporting an increase in bat rabies cases this year, and I have seen a number of cats over the years in this area that have found and played with bats, potentially exposing them to rabies. We DO have it here, and it IS a real threat.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears! OMUMS!

FDA has an excellent information sheet about the issue of minor use of pharmaceuticals in major species (cats are considered a major species) and also minor species (rabbits and rats included here).

I think fair use allows me to post entire government documents here if they are for public release, so here it is:


Cow, chicken, cat, catfish – one of these animals is not like the others. Read more to find out
which one and why it’s different.
What is OMUMS?
OMUMS is shorthand for “Office of Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Drug Development.”
OMUMS is the smallest Office in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary
Medicine (CVM). It was established by the MUMS Act.
What is the MUMS Act?
The MUMS Act is shorthand for “Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act.” The MUMS
Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004.
What is the purpose of OMUMS and the MUMS Act?
The purpose of OMUMS and the MUMS Act is to help make drugs available for minor species
and for minor uses in a major species (“MUMS drugs”).
What are major species?
There are seven major species: horses, cattle, pigs, dogs, cats, chickens, and turkeys.
What are minor species?
Minor species are all animals that are not major species. Zoo animals, such as lions and tigers;
“pocket pets,” such as guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, and ferrets; laboratory rodents; fish; and
pet birds, such as parrots and parakeets, are examples of minor species. Some minor species
are important to agriculture, including sheep, goats, catfish, llamas, bison, honey bees, and game
birds such as pheasants.
Have you figured out which animal at the top isn’t like the others? If you said “Catfish,” you’re
right! A catfish is a minor species, while a cow, chicken, and cat are all major species.
Animal Health Literacy 11/18/2009 2
What is a minor use in a major species?
A minor use in a major species is the use of a drug in a major species for a condition that occurs
infrequently and in only a small number of animals each year, or occurs in limited geographic areas
and in only a small number of animals each year. For example, the use of a drug to treat cancer
in cats may be a minor use in a major species if only a small number of cats get that type of
cancer each year.
What is a small number of animals for each major species?
OMUMS determined that “a small number” is less than:
50,000 Horses
70,000 Dogs
120,000 Cats
310,000 Cattle
1,450,000 Pigs
14,000,000 Turkeys
72,000,000 Chickens
Why is there a lack of available MUMS drugs on the market?
Two main reasons explain the lack of available MUMS drugs on the market. First, it is very expensive
for a drug company to get a drug developed, approved by the FDA, and on the market for
sale. Second, the market for a MUMS drug is too small to generate an adequate financial return
for the company. The combination of the expensive drug approval process and the small market
makes most drug companies hesitant to spend substantial resources to develop a MUMS drug
when there is so little return on their investment.
Why is the MUMS Act important?
The MUMS Act is important because it provides for innovative ways to bring MUMS drugs to market
faster and helps drug companies overcome the financial roadblocks in developing drugs for the
small MUMS market.
What are the key provisions of the MUMS Act?
The MUMS Act amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by providing for three key
provisions – conditional approval, designation, and indexing.
What is conditional approval?
Conditional approval allows a drug company to legally market a MUMS drug before collecting all
necessary effectiveness data, but after proving the drug is safe and there is a reasonable expectation
of effectiveness. Conditional approval does not reduce the requirements for approval. It simply
allows the drug company to market the drug while completing the effectiveness requirement.
This early marketing is good for two reasons: first, the drug is available to the MUMS market; and
second, the company can recoup some of the investment costs while pursuing a full approval. 11/18/2009 3
At the time of conditional approval, the drug must meet all the requirements for approval except
for effectiveness. The drug company can market the conditionally approved drug for up to five
years, with annual renewals, while collecting the remaining effectiveness data. Once this remaining
effectiveness data is collected, the drug company submits a request for full approval to
the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation.
Extra-label (“off label”) use of a conditionally approved drug is not allowed. There is also no
marketing exclusivity for a conditionally approved drug (unless the drug is also designated). This
means that if another drug company gets its MUMS drug fully approved for the same use first,
the conditionally approved drug is pulled off the market.
What is designation?
Designation provides drug companies with financial incentives, such as grants and exclusive
marketing rights, to pursue an approval or conditional approval for a MUMS drug. A drug company
submits a request to OMUMS for a drug to be designated for a specific use. After the designation
request is granted, no other identical designation may be granted. However, more than
one designation can be granted for the same drug, as long as the designations are for different
Once a drug company gets a drug designated, the
company or other organizations or individuals
working with the company are eligible for grants
through the federal government. This grant
money is used to reduce the costs of conducting
safety and effectiveness studies.
Designation requires that the drug company actively
work toward approval and provide annual
reports to OMUMS to show progress toward approval.
A drug company that receives approval or
conditional approval for a designated drug receives
seven years of exclusive marketing rights, beginning on the day of the approval or conditional
approval. This means the company will have no competition from other companies in the
marketplace for seven years.
Designation is a status that qualifies a drug company to receive financial incentives. It does not
mean that the drug is approved. It is illegal for a company to sell, promote, or advertize the designated
drug until it is approved or conditionally approved.
Designation can be terminated if another drug company gets the same drug approved or conditionally
approved for the same use before the designated drug. It can also be terminated for
other reasons, including lack of progress toward approval.
What is indexing?
Indexing allows the legal marketing of unapproved animal drugs for use in certain minor species
as long as the drugs are on the Index of Legally Marketed Unapproved New Animal Drugs for
Minor Species. Simply referred to as “the Index,” it is a list of drugs that used an alternative
pathway to get on the market.
In some cases, a drug intended for a minor species cannot reasonably go through the standard
drug approval process. For example, an animal may be too rare or valuable, such as the endangered
California condor, or the animals may be too varied, such as ornamental fish, to be used
in traditional safety and effectiveness studies to support approval. In these instances, indexing
What does “extra-label” mean?
When an approved drug is used in a manner
other than what is stated on the approved labeling,
it is an extra-label use. This is commonly
referred to as an “off-label” use because the
drug is used in a manner that is “off the label”. It
is illegal to use a conditionally approved drug or
an indexed drug in an extra-label manner. Conditionally
approved drugs and indexed drugs
must be used exactly as stated on the labeling. 11/18/2009 4
provides an alternative pathway to get a drug on the market that is faster than going through the
standard drug approval process.
Indexing is only available for drugs intended for a non-food producing minor species or for an early
life stage of a food producing minor species. Spat, or immature oysters, are an example of an
early life stage of a food producing minor species. Because people do not generally eat oyster
spat, a drug intended to treat a disease in spat can be indexed, but a drug to treat a disease in
adult oysters, which people commonly eat, cannot be indexed.
Drugs intended for transgenic animals cannot be indexed. Extra-label use of an indexed drug is
not allowed, and there is no marketing exclusivity for indexed drugs.
An indexed drug cannot compete with an approved drug, meaning that a drug cannot be listed on
the Index if the same drug is already approved. However, indexed drugs can compete with each
other, meaning that two drug companies can have the same drug listed on the Index for the same
A drug company has to go through a three-step process to get a drug listed on the Index. First,
the company submits a request to OMUMS to determine the eligibility of the product for indexing.
To be eligible, a drug must not pose any safety concerns to the end user (the person giving the
drug to the animal) or to the environment. The company must also explain the manufacturing
process for making the drug. Second, the company chooses qualified experts outside of the FDA
to serve on a panel. OMUMS must agree with the experts chosen by the company. It is the
panel’s job to review information on the safety of the drug to the animal and the drug’s effectiveness
when it is used according to the proposed label. Third, the outside expert panel submits a
report of their findings to OMUMS. All members of the expert panel must agree that the drug is
safe and effective when it is used according to the proposed label. If OMUMS agrees with the
panel’s report, the drug is added to the Index.
Unlike the long removal process for an approved drug, an indexed drug can be quickly removed
from the Index and pulled off the market if problems arise. And unlike conditional approval and
designation, indexing does not require the drug company to be actively working toward approval.
Is the MUMS Act working?
Yes! One drug for use in catfish has been conditionally approved, and OMUMS has granted over
80 designations. Two drugs are already on the Index, with more in the process of being indexed.
CVM is working hard to make sure safe and effective drugs are available for minor species and for
minor uses in a major species.
How can I get more information?
Contact the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine at 240-276-9300 or


If the format is hinky, don't blame me. I'm just the cut-and-paste lady.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Not To Do In A Vet's Office

Even though a lot of his article refers to dogs and not cats, there is still a lot of wisdom in Scott Weese's post on this subject over at Worms and Germs.

#1 and #9 are probably the most important in our office. Confining ALL cats to secure carriers prior to entering the exam room is critical for the safety of your pet, other people's pets, you, and other people (including the veterinary hospital staff, whose job requirements do not include getting bitten or scratched). Leaving small children at home makes for a more relaxed cat - when frightened and in an unfamiliar environment, cats lose the ability to recognize familiar people and be comforted by them.

Tiger Smuggler Thwarted

Even though I don't ever work on exotic feline species, I just had to post this about the baby tiger in the suitcase that made the news recently.

There isn't much in the world more adorable than baby tigers in my opinion, so this story really fries me. Poor thing could have died in there. And it must have been so scared. People are stupid, greedy, and mean sometimes.

No, I Didn't Die

I just realized I hadn't posted since I was sick earlier in the month. I was fine after a couple of days.

Maybe it's a reflection of my huge blog viewership that nobody called the office to see if I was still alive. LOL.

(Kicking self to make me get back to posting)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Been Quite A Day

This morning I went downtown to LA Veterinary Public Health to be interviewed by Dr. Emily Beeler for some educational podcasts/slide presentations about the rabid cat I reported back in 1987.

For background: there has been only one case of domestic animal rabies in Los Angeles County in the last, oh, at least 53 years or more. I know all about that case because I saw the cat in question, suspected rabies, reported it, and it was subsequently quarantined and confirmed. Sort of my 15 minutes of fame, if that. I guess now it's going into reruns or syndication!

Anyway, how I pulled off the trip downtown I will never know because I have been sick as a dog for a few days and really should be home in bed 24/7. But I made a commitment, and off I went.

But I am so very happy I was in the office this afternoon, because I was surprised by a phone call from my favorite professor in vet school, Dr. Simon Turner, to whom I had written a letter earlier this year when he was recovering from his SECOND traumatic brain injury received while riding his bicycle. We hadn't spoken to or seen each other in 28 years, but when he called it was such a pleasure, and I don't know who shed more tears or had more speechless moments. He is recovering at home, and his return to research and teaching is still uncertain, but he wanted to let me know he considered my letter particularly noteworthy.

I need to GO HOME. I still feel like c--p, but that phone call sure helped. In theory I will be at work tomorrow.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another Facepalm Moment

Alison just finished dealing with a phone call that went on for at least 10 minutes but ended without an appointment being scheduled - as previous calls from this same prospective client have ended, Alison informs me.

The woman repeatedly asked Alison (who is not a doctor, BTW) variations on the same questions along the lines of "My husband works and I don't drive - how close to closing time can I bring my two cats in?" and "How experienced is the doctor and are you sure she knows what she's doing?" and "What's wrong with my two old cats who have never been fixed or seen a veterinarian?".

The clincher was, "My cats aren't eating well. Have you ever heard of THAT???" To her credit, Alison merely informed her that she wasn't a doctor and couldn't answer medical questions.

In all honesty, it was actually a double facepalm moment.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Sad, Unnecessary Consequences Of Inadequate Public Health Systems

I was saddened to read today about the severe dog rabies problem in Bali reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. Bali, of course, is a trendy vacation hot spot of late, but you wouldn't catch me taking any children there, in large part because the country is utterly lacking in the physical resources to provide post-exposure prophylaxis to its own citizens, let along tourists who might get exposed to rabies.

In Third World countries like this, if you get bitten by an animal that cannot be proven to be free of rabies, your safest bet is to throw away your vacation money already spent and evacuate back to the US immediately for treatment. And how many people are going to do THAT?? So they put the blinders on, continue their vacation, and die a couple of months later.

Of course if it happened to me, I would worry less because I have been previously vaccinated for rabies and several years ago still had a protective titer. But if exposed, I would still fly home for the minimal treatment I would need. That's why I buy trip insurance.

Sadly, Bali was rabies-free until 18 months ago. So the local residents have no experience with it, and do not have reason to fear dog bites like those in areas with longstanding rabies problems.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Things That Can Make Your Cat Lose Weight

1) Collar way too tight
2) Large squamous cell carcinoma under tongue
3) Ants invading the cat food bowl
4) 1 1/2" skull tumor keeping it from being able to open its mouth
5) Stomach completely packed full of cat fur
6) Unregulated diabetes
7) 16 rotten, loose teeth
8) Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism
9) Complete bone marrow shutdown of unknown cause
10)Rubber band around base of tail causing the whole thing to die

There are more, of course. These are just some of the causes for weight loss I have seen in my years in practice.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

One Health - An Idea Long Overdue

One of the reasons I am so excited about my upcoming interview by Los Angeles Veterinary Public Health for a podcast on their website about that rabies case I was involved in back in 1987 is that it is going to provide another excellent opportunity to put the concept of One Health into action. Dr. Beeler has indicated that she wants to use the interview in presentations to both veterinary students at WU and also physicians at UCLA. We need to take advantage of every chance we get to tighten up the connections between the two professions in recognition that there isn't just "animal health" and "human health" - it's all a continuum, dubbed One Health.

Dr. Weese at Worms & Germs has an excellent post about the concept that is worth a read. He brings up an important point that I don't think I have addressed here yet: that people who know they are immunosuppressed need to be proactive and inform their veterinarians so we can keep them advised of how to safely approach pet ownership.

And because the situation is ever-changing, a single discussion is not enough. It needs to be an ongoing conversation. Back in the early days of AIDS, we veterinarians mistakenly thought that people with the disease simply couldn't own pets because of the risk of zoonotic diseases. Now we know that's not true, and can advise clients how to stay safe and still enjoy Fluffy or Spot. Also, people can forget over time that the transplant they had and are still on medication for might affect their immune system function, as will chemotherapy for cancer, spleen removal, and a host of other conditions and situations.

But we can't spend time telling everyone who walks in the door all this, so we need clients to step up and start the conversation.

So let's hope that One Health gets enough publicity that ALL physicians and All veterinarians hear about and understand their important roles in keeping all animals healthy, even the human animals.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pill Pockets

I often recommend the use of Greenies Pill Pockets for helping administer pills to cats. People seem to be unfamiliar with them, but they are now available at most pet stores. Certainly they can be found at our local Petcos and PetSmarts.

Pill pockets come in 3 flavors: chicken, salmon, and the new duck and pea formula for cats with food allergies. Obviously I advise against the salmon flavor (fish is inappropriate for cats), but I suppose in an extreme case it might be necessary - just try the others first.

Also, if you are giving pills the traditional open-and-shove way, it's best to follow with a water chaser - we recommend 5-6cc water via a 6cc syringe (we have them here, just ask at the front desk). Get your syringe of water ready BEFORE you pill the cat - even my Boochi, who is pretty accepting of medication, wants to leave right after the pills.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pet Tales: Paralyzed Therapy Cat Inspires Patients

I found this fascinating story of a cat, paralyzed since kittenhood, that is able to live a fairly normal life (with a veterinarian mom) that includes visiting a rehabilitation facility as a therapy cat!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Facebook Page

We have a Facebook page - go over there and hit the Like button!

Procter & Gamble Voluntarily Recalls Two Lots of Therapeutic Renal Dry Cat Food

We don't carry IVF diets, but it's possible some of our clients feed this food or know people who do. Here's the info via AVMA:


The following notice was received by the AVMA from Procter & Gamble on Sunday, July 25, 2010:

The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) (NYSE:PG), is voluntarily recalling two specific lots of its therapeutic renal dry cat food in North America as a precautionary measure, as it has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. No illnesses have been reported. However, P&G Pet Care wanted to make sure veterinarians were aware of the situation as soon as possible.

The health and welfare of pets and their owners is our top priority. P&G Pet Care is working swiftly to minimize any potential health risk to pets and working closely with the FDA to resolve the issue. Veterinary clinics that were affected have already been notified.

This product is available through veterinary clinics and is limited to those bags with the lot codes listed below. Lot codes can be found on the lower right corner of the back of the bags.

Product Name Lot Code UPC Code
Iams Veterinary Formulas Feline Renal 5.5 lbs 01384174B4 0 19014 21405 1
Iams Veterinary Formulas Feline Renal 5.5 lbs 01384174B2 0 19014 21405 1

If you need additional information, please call our veterinary line at 800-535-8387. Concerned pet owners may be directed to call P&G toll-free at 877-894-4458.

We apologize for any inconvenience this situation may cause you and want to assure you that P&G Pet Care is taking all the necessary steps to ensure our product quality meets your expectations.


For clarification - Salmonella bacteria can and do infect cats and can cause seerious illness or even death, plus affected cats can spread the disease to humans. People can also get the infection just from handling the food and not washing their hands adequately.

I can't fathom how kibble could GET contaminated by Salmonella. Maybe they have really dirty production facilities??? Pigeon or rat poop??? Inadequate heat processing of the kibble???

Friday, July 23, 2010

Good News For The Neighborhood (not about cats)

We all breathed a huge sigh of relief around these parts this week when fencing went up (FINALLY) indicating the start of the remodeling over at Corbin Village shopping center across the street from us - this is going to culminate in a brand new, fancy Von's Pavilions store opening up in March 2011.

That shopping center, built in the 60's, has sat virtually empty for almost a decade. We heard promises about a grocery store going in there, but nothing ever happened for years. So this is a big relief and will help improve the appearance of the neighborhood and maybe even stimulate business for a lot of small businesses nearby due to increased traffic and visibility.

Plus, a source for cat treats (and people treats, too) will be a lot closer.

ETA: Also, the huge tacky 60's architectural abomination formerly known as Woodland Casual (patio furnishings) just across Oakdale from the clinic has finally got a new tenant - a ballet and yoga studio. The bad news: the pink and burgundy paint job. Let's hope they are really successful so they can afford to repaint it after a consultation with someone other than a bordello owner.

CSU Researchers Will Study Felines In Boulder's Back Yard

My alma mater, Colorado State University, is launching a study of how the paths of mountain lions, bobcats, and domestic cats and what this can mean for infectious disease transmission between the three species. I am interested, of course, because it's CSU but also because we have all three kinds of cats right here in our nearby Santa Monica Mountains and the interface with suburbia.

They mention Feline Immunodeficiency Virus in the article, but I am more interested in how Feline Leukemia Virus is involved, because it is so much more easily spread, through casual contact rather than bite wounds.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Our Sudden, Unexplained Dog Problem

Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic is a hospital just for cats (and the odd rabbit or rat). We do not treat dogs. Our cat-owning clients bring their pets here specifically because they know there are no dogs on the premises, nor are there going to be any dogs on the premises to cause their cat(s) undue stress at any time. We work very hard to make sure our feline patients do not get frightened or upset needlessly while here, and keeping dogs far away is key to that.

For whatever reason, over the past 10 days at least 3 or 4 people have walked into the waiting room with their perfectly healthy (and sometimes very large) dog(s) in tow or in arms. Fortunately no cats have been in the waiting room at the same time, but that's just sheer luck. An unexpected dog combined with a cat loose in someone's arms (something we also strongly discourage but cannot completely prevent) is a recipe for injury and even death. All of our advertising specifies Practice Limited to Cats, as does the large lettering on our front window. So I don't get it.

Out of desperation we have placed a small sign at eye level on the front door that says No Dogs Please. We ask that people respect our wishes so we can provide the safest and least traumatic hospital experience possible for our patients.

As I've said before: we love dogs. We really do. We just cannot permit them inside our CAT hospital for safety reasons. I cringe to think what would have happened to my mascot, Dusty, if she had been here these past 2 weeks - she was absolutely terrified of dogs, and spent most of 10 years on the front counter where she would have been within easy reach of a large dog's teeth or a tiny dog's shrill bark.

Feline Hydrotherapy

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Normally swimming pool therapy is something for horses and dogs (and people). But here's a kitty who appears to have benefitted from it, though I am not sure I am ok with how frightened she probably was by the whole proposition.....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rabies Update at Worms & Germs

Anytime you start thinking I am a bit obsessive about rabies, go over to Dr. Scott Weese's blog, Worms & Germs. He posts about it probably four times as often as I do, and most of the rest of the time he's posting about, well, worms and other germs.

Anyway, he has some great comments, and then a link to ProMed's actual update.

The ProMed report states that the majority of human rabies cases in the US are caused by the bat strain. I have read elsewhere that in most of those cases, the actual bat contact appeared to have gone unnoticed and unremarked. I find myself wondering if CATS infected with the bat strain could be serving as a vector - it would go unnoticed, and would explain the lack of known bat contact........Back east most feline rabies is due to the raccoon strain (because the raccoon rabies there is seriously out of control), but here in the west, if I remember correctly, cats tend to get the bat strain more than anything else.

Things that make you go HMMMMMM.........

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Health Alert for Pet Rabbits

Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health has issued a medical alert for pet rabbits for the viral disease myxomatosis. Three cases have been confirmed in the San Gabriel Valley. The affected pet rabbits were allowed out of doors at times, where they were apparently bitten by mosquitos, black flies, or fleas which serve as vectors of this deadly disease. The natural reservoir is the native wild rabbit population, which is relatively resistant.

In July 2010, 3 fatal cases of myxomatosis (mix-oh-ma-tow-sis) in rabbits were reported in two homes in a neighborhood in the San Gabriel Valley. The rabbits died in the last two weeks of June. The pet rabbits lived mostly indoors but had access to the outdoors, where they could have been bitten by mosquitoes, fleas, or black flies. One case was confirmed after death by biopsy of swollen skin. All three rabbits showed typical symptoms (see description below). Blood tests on two rabbits showed low white blood cell counts, and increased liver enzyme and kidney values.

What is myxomatosis?
Myxomatosis is disease of rabbits caused by a virus. The onset of illness is rapid and death may occur within days or hours. Symptoms can include fever, loss of appetite, and swelling of the nose, eyelids, lips, ears, or genital area. Sudden death may occur.

Myxomatosis is found naturally in wild rabbits in California, especially along the coast. Wild rabbits are generally more resistant to the effects of the virus, but may become infected and spread the disease. In 1950, this virus was deliberately introduced into Australia in an attempt to rid the area of wild rabbits. Initially, 90% of infected rabbits died, but over several years, the mortality rate dropped to approximately 25%.

How is myxomatosis spread?
This virus can be spread from infected rabbits to other rabbits by the bites of any bloodsucking insect, including mosquitoes, fleas, black flies, and ticks. It may also spread through direct contact between rabbits or contact with surfaces contaminated by an infected rabbit.

Can people or other animals catch myxomatosis?
No. Myxomatosis causes illness only in rabbits.

How can I protect my rabbits from myxomatosis?
1. Protect your rabbits from fleas, mosquitoes, and flies. Some flea products are toxic to rabbits, so make sure you use only flea control products that are safe for rabbits. Keep your rabbit indoors, especially at dusk and dawn.
2. Stop mosquito breeding on your property. Check your property for stagnant water twice weekly (examples: drainage systems, flowerpots, old tires, gutters) and remove any that you find.
3. Isolate sick rabbits. if you have a sick rabbit, keep it in an area away from other rabbits. Wash your hands before and after handling the sick rabbit. Do not share rabbit equipment (bowls, cages, toys) until after you thoroughly clean and disinfect it.
4.Quarantine new rabbits. If you bring any new rabbits into your home, keep them in a cage far from your other rabbits, and use separate food and water bowls. Wash your hands well before and after handling the new rabbit.
5. Contact your veterinarian if you see any symptoms of myxomatosis in your rabbits.
6. Report myxotmatosis cases in Los Angeles County to Veterinary Public Health (213) 989-7060 or complete and fax in this form.


The bottom line: keep those pet bunnies INDOORS all the time. They can't handle our summer heat anyway (without burrowing into the ground), so they are much safer indoors.

There is NO treatment for myxomatosis. Avoiding exposure is the only way to avoid death. And it is a RABBIT disease. It doesn't affect humans or anybody else.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Toxoplasmosis - What Your Ob-Gyn Doesn't Know

Well, for about the hundred-seventy-ninth time in my career a client has come to me for information about toxoplasmosis after having been frightened half to death or completely misinformed about it by their or their wife's ob-gyn.

Now, a physician whose job is to keep a pregnant woman and her fetus healthy for 9 months should know a great deal about the most dangerous zoonotic threat during pregnancy, right?? One would think.

And given the vast storehouse of medical information available on the internet, and the universal access by physicians to said internet, and the extensive education of said physicians which would allow them to read, understand, and put to use said professionally relevant information, one would logically conclude that ob-gyns would know at least as much about toxoplasmosis as your average lowly cat doctor, right??

The sad truth? The aforementioned ob-gyn, who will remain unnamed so as to avoid outing him as the complete fool he is, after warning his patient (who fortunately is not yet pregnant but will be trying to become so soon) about this terribly dangerous disease, then told her (and I am quoting here), "But I really don't know anything about it." Or care, apparently. He then sent her home where, in the middle of the night after working herself into a completely understandable frenzy, she placed a panicked phone call to my answering machine. Fortunately I had answers and set her mind at ease in short order.

It may come as a shock to you, but this really is a huge improvement over the situation here in Los Angeles 25 years ago when a client came to me completely hysterical because she had just found out she was pregnant and her ob-gyn informed her in no uncertain terms that she HAD TO DESTROY HER CAT. So, really, there has been progress. I think.

So now I have to take time out of my Sunday (yeah, right, like I don't LIKE blogging, lol) to enlighten you, Constant Reader, and hopefully more than a few ob-gyns if enough people link back to this page from elsewhere on the net where they are commenting on this matter in sheer outrage (that is what's known as a hint).

Toxoplasmosis IS a serious disease. It can do grave harm to developing fetuses. But problems with toxo are pretty darn easy to avoid. Here's the CDC's web page on Toxoplasma gondii and the disease it causes, toxoplasmosis. It has lots of links and there is a whole lot of material to read for those who are interested.

Here's CDC's special page on toxo geared specifically toward pregnant women. Somebody with more gumption than me needs to email that link to every ob-gyn in the country so they have NO MORE EXCUSES FOR IGNORANCE.

I was gonna settle my outrage with a glass of chardonnay, because I am pretty hot under the collar about this. But then I remembered I used that bottle to start some white wine vinegar after I learned all about how to do that on the internet.

Initiative is such an amazing thing. And in such short supply.

ETA: my fist-waving, cussing smilie avatar appears to be broken, but I'll leave him up because he's cute enough as he is.

Also ETA some CDC brochures:

Toxoplasmosis: An Important Message For Women

Toxoplasmosis: An Important Message For Cat Owners

CDC Toxoplasmosis Fact Sheet to hand to worried family members so they will stop bugging you about the cat.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Online Resources: Part 3 - Nutrition and Parasite Prevention

Today I'm finally getting around to wrapping up my series on web resources for cat owners with this piece on diet, nutrition, and parasite prevention.

Your Cat's Nutritional Needs - A Science-Based Guide for Pet Owners - this informational brochure is produced by the National Academy of Sciences, so you can take it to the bank.

Companion Animal Parasite Council: Information for cat owners - I agree with virtually everything they recommend provided it's tailored to local risk realities. Adult housecats eating commercial cat food and living completely indoors in my region of Southern California are essentially NOT a factor in toxocaral larva migrans problems in children, particularly when compared to puppies living outdoors in the American Southeast. And IMHO, CAPC overrates the value of fecal microscopic testing in asymptomatic animals because of the unacceptably high incidence of false negatives.

American Heartworm Society - we are not in an endemic heartworm area here in the San Fernando Valley (yet), but it is a disease of potential importance in cats from other areas where it IS endemic: Northern California, the American Southeast, and any areas with significant ongoing mosquito issues (Marina del Rey is a local pocket of trouble).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Online Resources: Part 2 - Behavior / Environment

This time I'm posting links to some good information on feline behavior, environment, and the veterinary encounter.

Cornell Feline Health Center - lots of good information, some on behavior (scattered around) - 3 behavior brochures here - - scroll down to the bottom here for some CatWatch articles on behavior.

Ohio State Univ. Indoor Cat Initiative - REALLY great resource on keeping cats indoors and the behavioral issues invloved.

Humane Society of the U.S. - Keeping Your Cat Happy Indoors - another very helpful and informative site.

Feline Advisory Bureau - The Cat Friendly Home

Feline Advisory Bureau - Bringing Your Cat to the Vet

Dumb Friends' League "Play With Your Cat"

And here are some tips on taking your cat to the veterinarian (compliments of Hill's Pet Nutrition):

The cat carrier:
Always transport the cat in a carrier or other safe container.
• Train cats to view the carrier as a safe haven and “home away from home.” Keep the carrier out in the home. Put treats, favorite toys, or blankets inside to entice the cat into the carrier.
• Carriers with both top and front openings are recommended. Top-loading carriers allow for stress-free placement and removal of the cat and enable them to be examined while remaining in the bottom half of the carrier.
• Bring the cat’s favorite treats, toys, and blanket. If the cat likes to be groomed, bring its favorite grooming equipment.
• If the cat has previously had negative experiences at a veterinary hospital, the veterinarian may prescribe a short-duration antianxiety medication that should be given approximately one hour prior to the visit.

The car ride:
• Take the cat for regular rides in the carrier, starting with very short ones, to places other than the veterinary hospital.
• Because cats may get carsick, do not feed the cat for at least an hour prior to travel.

At the hospital:
• Reward desired behaviors, even small ones, with treats, verbal praise, and other things the cat likes (e.g., brushing, massaging, playing).
• Remain calm and speak in a soft voice to help the cat remain calm. If a situation is upsetting for the pet owner, the cat may do better if that person leaves the room.
• Always allow a trained veterinary team member to handle the cat. Even the sweetest and most laid-back cat can become aroused and fearful in a strange environment. Anxiety may cause the cat to act out of character and bite or scratch.
• Discuss techniques that might make future visits more relaxing for the pet owner and the cat.

Monday, July 5, 2010

CATegorical Care

I thought I did a post about this, but I guess not. The CATalyst Council has a great document called CATegorical Care: A Guide to America's #1 Pet. Every cat owner should read it and keep a copy on hand. Now that we all have computers and know how to download, there's NO MORE EXCUSE for not being informed.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Feline’s Pride Issues Nationwide Recall of its Natural Chicken Formula Cat Food Due to Salmonella Contamination

The FDA issued this press release on July 1:

Shelby Gomas,
Tel: 1-716-580-3096

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 1, 2010 - Buffalo, NY – Feline’s Pride is announcing a voluntary recall of Feline’s Pride Raw food with ground bone for cats and kittens, Natural Chicken Formula, Net Wt. 2.5 lbs. (1.13 kg., 40 oz.) produced on 6/10/10, because it may be contaminated with Salmonella. People handling raw pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the raw pet food or any surfaces exposed to the product.

When consumed by humans, Salmonella can cause an infection, salmonellosis. The symptoms of salmonellosis include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, minimal diarrhea, fever, and headache. Certain vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems, are particularly susceptible to acquiring salmonellosis from such pet food products and may experience more severe symptoms.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The product is packaged in uncoded plastic containers and sold frozen to private consumers nationwide. Once thawed, the pet food has a shelf life of about 1 week. The firm manufactures the pet food by an as-ordered basis. This recall affects only those orders placed and shipped from June 10 through June 17, 2010.

The firm and FDA are investigating this matter to determine the source of this problem, and will take any additional steps necessary to protect the public health.

To date, both the firm and the FDA have received no reports of Salmonella infection relating to this product.

This product should not be fed to pets but should instead be disposed of in a safe manner (e.g., in a securely covered trash receptacle). People who are experiencing the symptoms of Salmonella infection after having handled the pet food product should seek medical attention, and report their use of the product and illness to the nearest FDA office.

People should thoroughly wash their hands after handling the pet food – especially those made from raw animal protein such as meat or fish -- to help prevent infection. People may risk bacterial infection not only by handling pet foods, but by contact with pets or surfaces exposed to these foods, so it is important that they thoroughly wash their hands with hot water and soap.

Since certain vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems, are particularly at risk from exposure they should avoid handling this product.

Consumers with questions should contact the company at (716) 580-3096, Monday –Friday from 10 am - 4 pm EDT.


In a nutshell, Salmonella-contaminated cat food like this can make your cat ill and then you can catch the disease from your cat, but ALSO you can catch it directly from the food just by handling it (if any of it contacts your mouth). This is one of the main reasons I NEVER recommend raw meat or foods containing raw meat for cats. I occasionally have to treat suspected Salmonella in cats because the owner won't listen to my advice or never even thought to discuss cat food with a veterinarian.

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 4th Holiday Schedule

We will be closed on Sunday July 4 and Monday July 5 in observation of Independence Day. We will be open on Saturday from 9 AM to 12 PM only. Regular hours will resume on Tuesday July 6. If you have an emergency over the weekend, call Veterinary Specialists of the Valley at 818-883-8387.

Have a happy, safe Fourth!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Online Resources: Part 1 - General Feline Wellness

AAFP's most recent Feline Lifestyle Guidelines have a great listing of web resources for cat owners. I'm dividing them into three separate posts grouped according to general subject. First we will cover general wellness, including dental issues.

Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) WellCat - Wellcat Log - this is an organization in the UK so they word some things differently than we do in the US. But it's a good document anyway.

Morris Animal Foundation - Happy Healthy Cat Campaign - they have an ancillary site, Catster, and some videos I like.

Veterinary Partner - This is a fabulous resource with lots of new information being added all the time. Brought to you by VIN, the best web resource for veterinarians.

CATalyst Council - Click on "Facts, Fun, & Resources" - more great videos.

AAHA's Healthy Pet website (feline section)

Veterinary Oral Health Council - fair warning - there is a nasty photo of a dog's neglected mouth on the front page. Click on "What is periodontal disease?" over on the left side.

That ought to keep you busy for a while. There will be a quiz in July, so read up and take notes!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The "Green" Litter Box

At the risk of making half of you think I have again jumped the shark, I'm going to delve into cat sanitation with an eye toward environmental issues. I first thought about this back around Earth Day, but in my longstanding tradition of procrastination, I'm only now getting around to it.

Choice of cat litter:

I've always felt that clay litter was the most environmentally appropriate litter choice, being basically a natural mineral (bentonite) that is harmless in the environment. My only problem with it is when it gets flushed. Scoopable and regular clay litters can clog toilets, leading to major plumbing repair bills. I have noticed that if I just put the scoop litter-covered feces in the toilet bowl and let them sit a few minutes, the tiny bits of clay hydrate nicely and suspend in the water just fine, so I will flush the feces. I NEVER EVER flush the urine clumps, however, because that much dirt of any kind at one time is sure to clog up the works. And of course the larger pieces of litter in regular clay litter (non-scoop) cannot be trusted to soften up appreciably.

Other litters, such as the wheat or corn based, are probably flushable if the label makes that claim, but I would always be worrying about clogs, so would only flush feces if I were using them.

Let cat poop light the night:

You might ask why I bother to flush cat feces instead of landfilling them - it's because of THIS. LA DWP operates the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant and the biogas-fueled electricity generating station that the sewage sludge fuels. So your cat's poop (and yours, too) helps to keep the power on. Hyperion has been operating in this way for over 50 years, and I would venture a guess that the majority of Angelenos haven't a clue.

If we toss cat feces in landfills, two major problems arise. First, if the feces harbor Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite, and rainwater washes through the landfill and runs to the sea (pretty much a given at times), that Toxoplasma winds up in the ocean where it is known to kill our very own beloved sea otters. I realize that feral cats probably contribute far more to any Toxo risk to wildlife than pet housecats do, but that's no excuse for us being lackadaisical and contributing to the problem unnecessarily.

Second, cat feces in a landfill are going to produce methane - that's a given. But in that landfill, there is no way to capture and utilize the methane gas - it just goes up into the atmosphere where it contributes to the greenhouse effect. In lovely weather like we are having right now, it's hard to get concerned about global warming, but the safest course of action is to act in a way right now that we know does less harm and requires no additional expense or effort , and we can debate about the magnitude of the problem at leisure.

Disposal of litter box scoopings:
I used to use all those plastic grocery bags for tossing my scoopings, but since I avoid them like the plague these days in favor of cloth totes, I have had to improvise. Fortunately, plenty of plastic bags still come through my doors in the form of grocery produce bags, ziploc food packaging, plastic wraps on magazines, bags from dried beans and rice and pasta, and just about every other food you can think of. It's ALL packaged in plastic. I also have found that I can twist a bag shut and store it under the bathroom sink with the litter scoop and other supplies, and use it for about 2 or 3 days' worth for my two cats (YMMV) without the slightest odor problem (I use PetSmart's Exquisicat Scoop brand), so I get great mileage out of the bags I DO use. And unlike the el cheapo flimsy white plastic grocery bags, my produce bags and such don't always seem to have HOLES IN THE BOTTOM. Oh, and I tie an overhand knot in my bags or zip them shut before tossing, so they don't stink up the wastebasket.

And just FYI and slightly off topic: I STILL hate those electric self-cleaning monstrosities.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Our Electrical/Phone Problem Today

If any of you tried to call the office today before 11 AM, the phone probably just rang and rang. You can thank the local miscreants who vandalized our fusebox outside and cut all electrical power to us (and did a number on the print shop's electricity, too).

Our telephones depend on electricity, so when we lose one we automatically lose the other.

All I knew was that the power was off, so I called DWP. They eventually showed up and informed me that the building was missing a key piece of equipment and that it was the owner's problem and not DWP's. So I called my landlord and an electrician. My eagle-eyed landlord found the missing piece of equipment out by the dumpster, slightly damaged by being thrown, and the electrician reinstalled it, which is a good thing, because a replacement would have cost $1200. So we finally had power again, but the morning was mostly shot.

Can somebody explain to me why on earth anyone feels that doing this sort of damage to someone else's property is a productive use of their time and energy? I just don't get it. I never have.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why Insurance For Kitty Might Be A Good Idea

One of my longstanding clients was recently laid off and is facing an uncertain future. He nonetheless took it upon himself to bring one of his older cats in for its annual vaccinations and recommended laboratory tests. I was a bit surprised to uncover a serious but unsuspected kidney problem, and so was the client. But he's not losing sleep over the costs because he has faithfully paid for pet insurance for a few years, knowing that this day could come. A large portion of the diagnostic lab tests and medications and ongoing treatment will be covered by his policy.

I have always told my clients that the best insurance out there is good preventive medical care. But in spite of our best efforts and responsible pet parenting, bad luck has a way of happening, and at all the wrong times. In this difficult economy, I am more enthusiastic about pet insurance than I have been. It helps that there are more and more companies involved as years go by.

Here's a list of current pet insurance providers with web links:
Hartville Group Inc.
Embrace Pet Insurance
Pet First Healthcare
Petplan USA
Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI)
Pet Partners Inc.
Pets Best Insurance
24Petwatch Insurance
Purinacare Pet Health Insurance

We do not recommend or endorse any particular company or companies. VPI has been around the longest. The consumer needs to carefully evaluate insurance plans and find what fits best with their budget and needs. But when lightning strikes, it's nice to know some of the costs will be covered.

Monday, June 14, 2010

First Aid Tips For Pet Owners

AVMA has a great page on first aid for pets. It would be a good idea to bookmark it for quick reference down the road. You might also copy and paste the information relevant to your own pet(s) into a Word document, or maybe a note in Outlook.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

RECALL: Iams ProActive Health Canned Cat and Kitten Food

P&G Recalls Specific Canned Cat Foods Due to Low Levels of Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

CINCINNATI, June 9, 2010 - The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) (NYSE:PG) is voluntarily recalling specific lots of its Iams canned cat food in North America as a precautionary measure. Diagnostic testing indicated that the product may contain insufficient levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1), which is essential for cats. Cats that were fed these canned products as their only food are at greater risk for developing signs of thiamine deficiency.

The following Iams canned cat foods are included:

Product Name: Iams ProActive Health canned Cat and Kitten Food - all varieties of 3 oz & 5.5 oz cans

Date on Bottom of Can: 09/2011 to 06/2012

This recall is limited to only Iams canned cat food distributed in North America. No other Iams pet food is involved.

Early signs of thiamine deficiency may include loss of appetite, salivation, vomiting and weight loss. In advanced cases, signs may include ventroflexion (downward curving) of the neck, wobbly gait, falling, circling and seizures. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat is displaying any of these signs. If treated promptly, thiamine deficiency is typically reversible.

Consumers who have purchased canned cat food with these codes should discard it. For further information or a product refund call P&G toll-free at 877-340-8826 (Monday - Friday, 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM EST).

Media Contact: Jason Taylor 513-622-3205


That's NINE MONTHS' output of product. Shame on P&G for not detecting this MUCH sooner.

On the up side, if your cat is eating primarily a high quality kibble food, and you rotate brands/flavors/styles of canned food, a deficiency leading to illness is unlikely.

Like the press release says, if you have been feeding a significant amount of the food listed and your cat has any of the listed symptoms, be sure to get it looked at sooner rather than later.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stuff We Need

In our continual efforts to Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle, we have ongoing modest needs for the following:

Newspapers - clean, unyellowed used Los Angeles Times or New York Times (others seem to have lots of colored ink or ink that smears too much) - just the newsprint, not the glossy inserts. We use it to line the cats' cages in the hospital ward (it's amazingly absorbent and insulative).

Plastic grocery bags - you know, those accursed things that we try not to get in the first place and so we all use cloth tote bags now - these are what we have always used for sending bags of cat food and larger prescription items home in - I know some of you still use them all the time, and we love re-using them.

Unwanted terrycloth bath towels - unfrayed, clean please - stained or with bleach spots is ok - standard bath towel size is best

We don't need huge amounts of these things, but if you have some you are thinking of throwing in the trash or blue recycling bin, please think of us first. Call and talk to Alison about current needs before loading anything up to bring here in case we get an overwhelming response to this post.

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June Is Adopt-A-Cat Month

From the CATalyst Council:

"Approximately 4 million cats end up in shelters every year, including thousands born every spring and summer during “kitten season.” To help promote adoptions of these fun, affectionate animals, American Humane celebrates Adopt-A-Cat Month each June.

"Your local shelter is brimming with cats of every breed, age and personality just waiting for a loving home. Whether you prefer young and frisky or mature and mellow, you’re sure to find the perfect cat companion during Adopt-A-Cat Month!"

Over at their website they have some excellent educational materials:

CATegorical Care: An Owner's Guide to America's #1 Pet (PDF)

Connecting With Cats (PDF), a children's coloring book

About the American Humane Association (PDF)

Feline resources from the AVMA

Adopt-A-Cat Month recognized in Congress

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

WSU's Green Glove Dance Video - An Instant Classic!

When I think back on my time in vet school, most my memories are of endless hard work, both physical and intellectual, of nights with inadequate or no sleep, of impossible amounts of medical knowledge to comprehend and assimilate, and of exams and more exams, and fear of not passing, and, well, you probably get it. Stress enough to kill most mortals.

But then there were those odd moments of fun and games: admitting a june bug to ICU and presenting the case in rounds (those all-nighters could get dull and we just wanted to perk things up), of practical jokes on professors, and of course at the student banquet my senior year, the student-made film (back in the days before digital video) "Mr. Bill Goes To CSU-VTH" (cue the falsetto voice crying "OH, NO!!!").

I never thought that last one would be topped, but it finally has been. I present to you, without further comment, this stellar effort from the WSU DVM Class of 2011:

And yes, that DOES appear to be the faculty and staff of their Veterinary Teaching Hospital!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Engineer's Guide To Cats

I have a new favorite cat video, which I present to you without comment, other than to say the obvious: NO TUNA!!!

Addendum: Well, gosh, THAT worked out well. Not. Not sure why it loaded in high speed. The original on Youtube can be found here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trip To The Los Angeles Zoo

I went with a group of local veterinarians to the Los Angeles Zoo last Sunday. We got treated to an insider's tour of the medical facility there followed by a lecture on a couple of interesting cases: an orangutan with chronic air sacculitis and pneumonia, and an Indian rhinocerus with squamous cell carcinoma of the horn.

The hospital was gorgeous, but I was sad to hear that budget cuts have been so severe at LA Zoo that most the veterinary and nursing staff has been laid off and instead of giving each and every one of the 1100+ animals there a thorough physical every two years as they had been doing, they are reduced to practicing what we call "fire engine medicine" - in other words, when an animal becomes ill, then and only then is there any medical care. But heaven forbid the taxpayers agree to cough up a few pennies apiece to improve this cruel and deplorable situation......

On the brighter side, there are a lot of capital facilities improvements going on, lots of new construction. If I'm not mistaken, some of these were funded by a Proposition "O" and/or some of the economic stimulus funds for shovel-ready projects that benefit the environment/conservation efforts. Many exhibits are empty, however, and one can only hope that the budget allows for putting animals into the facilities that are being built/refurbished, and the staff to care for them.

The lecture was fascinating. Both cases were quite challenging but ended well. The rhino was on exhibit today and she looks great, but of course she doesn't have much of a horn anymore. She's 40 years old. The orangutan is now over 30, and he fathered a baby in about 2005 as a result of his improved health.

Of course my favorite part of any zoo experience is the cats, and I got to see one of the snow leopards up very close and actively moving about. He came right down to drink from his pond at the front of the enclosure not 5 feet from me, and then sniffed at a rock, rubbed his face on it, then turned and sprayed it with urine to make sure everyone knew it was his own personal rock! What a gorgeous animal!

The tiger and lions and serval were all snoozing and so I saw them from a distance and not doing anything. I wish they had some mountain lions and bobcats on exhibit - even though they are not exotic imports, they are fascinating and beautiful animals and people would be thrilled to see some local wildlife. One of the best zoos I've ever seen was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ, which is a zoo full of wildlife native to the region instead of the usual big game from far away.

Go visit the LA Zoo before the weather gets too hot this summer - none of the animals are visible when it gets nasty hot. And please DO consider becoming a member to help them out financially, or even making an additional donation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Your Cat's Anal Sacs

"My cat's WHAT???? Why are you talking about sex???"

Ok, calm down. I did not say anal sex. I am not talking about sex (true story - more than one client over the years has responded to this subject in that exact way - this is almost certainly why most vets more savvy than me call them anal "glands", albeit erroneously).

Dogs have them, and unfortunately so do cats. All I can say is, thank heavens that humans don't. These two pea-sized little structures adjacent to the anus at the 4- and 8-o'clock positions can cause a great deal of discomfort for some cats, but rarely do they cause the sort of mess they can in dogs that necessitates their surgical removal.

Anal sacs serve no discernable useful purpose, but they are analogous to a skunk's scent glands and so they may serve as a sort of scent marking device for reinforcing territorial boundaries. Whatever the case is, cats aren't talking. And most cats never have the slightest problem with them.

When anal sacs get impacted (plugged up and full of the stinky stuff they produce which is NOT feces) most cats will exhibit some sort of abnormal behavior but which varies tremendously from cat to cat. We don't usually see cats dragging their rear end across the carpet with hind feet in the air like dogs usually do. But excessive grooming is a common symptom, as is some degree of visible discomfort around the hind end.

People will probably now be asking, "How do I know if my cat has impacted or infected anal sacs?" The truth is, you probably won't. But just like any other time you think your cat doesn't look or act normal, you should get it in for an exam. Trust me - you don't want to go poking around your cat's butt too enthusiastically - anal sac "juice" has a propensity for squirting out at the most inopportune times, and it is one of the foulest substances known to man. Ask me how I know.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why Every Cat Owner Needs A Can Of Easy Cheese In The Pantry

Ok, now those of you who know me at all know that I am seriously into REAL food and not a fan at all of processed or fake foods, at least for myself. But I am gonna go against every thing I believe in when it comes to good nutrition to make a simple recommendation that just might make the daunting task of pilling cats a whole lot easier for those of you brave enough to try it.

For a couple of years I have been hearing about the use of canned cheese food product as a vehicle for inducing cats to voluntarily consume pills. Every time I would hear it, I would say, "Wow, what a cool idea!" and then promptly forget all about it. But I had a Cheez Whiz moment today while talking about something completely unrelated with a client (don't ask what that's about - I have no idea - it just randomly came into my head) and figured I just HAD to blog about it.

So, here's what you do. Go buy a can of plain, original flavored Kraft Easy Cheese at your nearest non-Whole-Foods grocer. Start by training your cat to eat dots of it on a plate without any medication. This way you will know in advance if he/she will even eat the stuff, but from what I hear they almost all consider it on par with crack cocaine, if not better. Put three to five dabs in a row on a plate. A "dab" is probably about as big as the end of your little finger, but experiment around. You don't want to be giving kitty a meal of the stuff - it's little better than Elmer's glue or plastic in my opinion, though at least your cat won't live long enough to get sludged-up arteries from it.

Once the cat has come to anticipate the stuff and eagerly eats the dabs all in a row, then start putting the pill (or piece of pill) in the middle dab (just smush it in with your finger). From what I hear, cats are so excited by the idea of getting a couple more dabs of the stuff, they don't care that there is medication in the middle one.

Of course, this won't work with big pills like Tumil-K, but if your cat is on benazepril or famotidine or clavamox or prednisolone or anything smallish, it should work. Half a Baytril may or may not work - it's bigger.

So give it a try and let me know how it works. Just please don't take to eating it yourself. Seriously. Buy a hunk of brie if you want gluey cheese.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

About Choosing A Dog (yes, I know, this post has nothing to do with cats)

Alison, my trusty assistant, asked me to post this in view of the upcoming Disney film "Marmaduke".

It has become a sad American tradition that whenever a movie comes out that showcases a particular breed of dog, that breed skyrockets in popularity - generally to its detriment. I first remember this phenomenon with Lassie (collies) and 101 Dalmations (dalmations and cocker spaniels).

Now, with the prospect of great danes becoming the trendy new hip pet for the fashion-minded but woefully unprepared, we think it's time to speak out and say "NO!!" The vast majority of people are not suitable great dane owners. These dogs require a LOT of food to grow them to adulthood and still more to maintain them. They are a giant breed, and so they take up a lot of space and need a lot of yard to stretch their legs in. They are NOT apartment or condo dogs.

And the breed has a plethora of serious medical conditions just lurking beneath the surface: cardiomyopathy (dead dog quickly) and bone cancer (dead dog painfully) are the two I am most familiar with from my dog & cat days. Growth problems due to inappropriate nutritional choices (usually excesses rather than deficiencies) can lead to misery and permanent damage to joints and bones. And the simple fact is, as a giant breed, these dogs only live about 8-10 years on average.

So unless you really know what you are getting into, don't be tempted to get a dane just because you saw one in a movie. Go to the pound and pick up a homely but loving mutt. You'll feel better about yourself and never regret your decision.