Friday, January 29, 2010

Oh Noes, I Forgot About The Bunnies!

Dear Rabbit Owners:

Please forgive me. In the year or so that I have been blogging, I have completely failed to REMEMBER THE BUNNIES. Granted, with the economic "downturn"/collapse, demand for rabbit medical care seems to have dried up, but I still feel an obligation to provide a little health care info for bunny owners.

My favorite source for rabbit information is over at the House Rabbit Society. I also have a handout on rabbit nutrition that I give clients when they come in with their bunny.

Probably the single most important thing to remember when it comes to preventing disease in rabbits is: feed grass hay, and plenty of it. Rabbits are much like horses in that they have a cecum, and require vast amounts of fiber in the form of GRASS HAY to maintain optimum health and a well-functioning gastrointestinal tract.

The second most important condition I see bunnies for is an overenthusiastic attitude toward sex. With anything and everything, including pillows, the cat, and children's heads. If I had a nickel for every male mini lop rabbit, in particular, that needed to be neutered on a near-emergency basis, I could retire today.

Pet rabbits don't get vaccinations of any kind, but they do benefit from an annual examination and consultation about proper husbandry practices. So if you HAVE a pet rabbit and it's been a while, give us a call.

February is Pet Dental Health Month

From the AVMA:

Schaumburg, IL
— It is estimated that 80 percent of people brush their teeth every day, but far fewer pet owners do the same for their pets. Pet Dental Health Month, celebrated every February, teaches pet owners proper dental hygiene is equally as important for their pets.

"Most people have no idea that dental health is so important to their pets, and that's why Pet Dental Health Month is such a great idea," explains Dr. Larry Corry, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). "In fact, veterinarians report that periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed problem in dogs and cats. This can lead to painful infections of the mouth, and in severe cases these infections can spread and become life-threatening conditions. During Pet Dental Health Month, the AVMA is encouraging all dog and cat owners to regularly brush their pet's teeth and regularly see their veterinarian for checkups."

The AVMA, a sponsor of Pet Dental Health Month, offers an informative video giving step-by-step instructions on how to brush your pet's teeth. The Pet Dental Month Web site,, includes tips from a veterinary expert on pet dental health, Dr. Brook Niemiec.

"Periodontal disease, an infection of the gums, is incredibly common in pets, and it can be quite serious," explains Dr. Niemiec, a board certified veterinary dental specialist. "It's estimated that by the age of two, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal infections have been linked to diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and other life threatening disorders. The best way to prevent periodontal disease is by regularly brushing your pet's teeth and by regularly visiting your veterinarian."

For more information, please visit, and to show off your pet's pearly whites upload their photos at the AVMA Flickr site Pearly White Pets.


Assessment of dental health is one of the most important things we do in our annual and semi-annual wellness exams of cats. Dental disease is probably the most common health condition I see in practice. The average cat needs its teeth cleaned about every three years, but I see cats who could have them cleaned three times a year and STILL not be trouble-free. On the other end of the spectrum, I see on rare occasion an elderly cat who has never had dental work because it has never needed it.

When we clean a cat's teeth, we do so under light anesthesia with injectable drugs. This process is extremely safe, and so we don't hesitate to do it except in terribly ill animals. The tiny risk of anesthesia is well worth it when you consider the serious risk of medical consequences from NOT addressing dental needs.

And speaking of consequences - most people are unaware that untreated dental disease such as calculus accumulation, periodontal disease, cervical line lesions, and broken teeth can lead to liver, kidney, and heart trouble. It's not a cosmetic issue in the least, cats not being known for their toothy grins.

VIN's VetPartner has an excellent page on feline dental disease here.

If you have been advised that your feline friend needs dental care, please call us to schedule an appointment. If your kitty hasn't been to a veterinarian in a long time and you have no idea what is going on inside his/her mouth, then you definitely need to schedule an examination.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

WebMD's Healthy Cats Page

I just today found out about WebMD's great new Healthy Cats page. The articles appear to be written by nonveterinarians, but reviewed by veterinarians, so hopefully there won't be any serious misinformation there. Be aware that opinions vary within the veterinary community on many subjects, so you may find some things that go counter to my recommendations on this and other websites. But this is certainly better information than what we used to see too much of on the internet in the way of random layperson's rants and ravings.

At any rate, I am majorly in favor of ANY website or source that promotes a better informed pet owning public.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Animal Shelter Locations For Community Emergencies

In view of this week's heavy rains and local emergency evacuations, I thought it would be a good idea to post Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control's list of shelters. If you need to leave your home due to flooding or mudslides and mandatory evacuations, the county will provide temporary safekeeping for your pets.

This is one reason why I am happy to pay taxes.

It's All About The Cat

The CATalyst Council has produced this excellent video in response to the dramatic decline in feline medical visits in the US in recent years. They also have an excellent, informative website.

And here's another, on wellness exams. My, they've been busy of late!

I tried, and failed, to post the videos right here so you wouldn't have to go to a link, but I guess I am incompetent.

Friends For Life - Caring For Your Older Cat

The AAFP has recently published a new and very helpful brochure titled "Friends For Life - Caring For Your Older Cat" in conjunction with the issuance of its latest Senior Cat Care Guidelines for veterinarians.

From their website:

A Time of Transition

We all want to grow old with grace and dignity.And we want the same for our pets. Fortunately, expert understanding of cat health and advances in veterinary medicine mean cats can live longer, better lives than ever before. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), a group of several thousand veterinarians committed to the best care for cats, recently appointed a task force to review the many complex health issues that affect cats. The work of this task force resulted in a set of new medical guidelines for senior cat care.

Those guidelines, developed for use by veterinarians, also provide the foundation for this handbook. As the companion who cares for your cat every day, there’s much that you can do to keep your cat healthy and happy. Whether it’s understanding the common signs of aging, deciding what to feed your cat, looking out for signs of common age-related diseases or ensuring your cat gets proper veterinary care, this handbook provides guidance on making the most of your cat’s senior years.


I wholeheartedly endorse the recommendations in the booklet, with one exception: rather than using tuna juice as a flavor enhancer and bribe, perhaps chicken or beef broth would be more appropriate!

The recommendation for twice-a-year wellness exams in older cats is not new, and is an excellent one, but I have enough trouble getting cat owners to bring their charges in annually in this economy. Twice a year is certainly best, and I recommend it, but I recognize that many cat owners simply won't comply, and that's sad for the many kitties whose health problems will go undiagnosed.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page at the link to download the pdf file of the brochure. You will need Adobe Acrobat. You can also send for a paper copy of the brochure.

Egypt Announces Find of Ancient Cat Goddess Temple

Just in, and posted here with only a wry grin.

I bow to my feline overlords.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Helping Haiti

Unless you live in a cave, you know by now that Haiti is in far worse trouble now that it was a week ago. Their earthquake was perhaps 50% stronger than Northridge, but due to construction techniques best suited for hurricane-proofing and not for earthquake-proofing, plus the utter lack of any building codes, huge numbers of people have lost everything they own (which wasn't much to start with).

There are numerous charitable organizations worthy of your donations to help provide immediate aid and ongoing assistance. Some of my favorites are:

Heifer International - Heifer provides both livestock and husbandry training in Third World countries and has worked in Haiti for many years. It is probably the most popular charity among veterinarians (it's that ulterior motive thing, lol....more patients for food animal vets to treat).

Doctors Without Borders - they need help rebuilding the three hospitals in Port-au-Prince that were destroyed, along with immediate needs.

Mennonite Central Committee (I owe some Mennonites a personal debt which can never be repaid to my satisfaction)

Veterinarians Without Borders - While they do not currently have a Haiti presence, plans are in the works as a result of the earthquake from what I understand.

As I sit here tonight, snug in my little home, all warm and dry in spite of the pouring rain - with 5 or 10 times more square footage for myself to live in than the average Haitian, and a full cupboard and stomach - I am profoundly grateful for what I have. I am safe, and I know where my next week of meals and more is coming from, and I will sleep tonight on a bed most of the world's poor would consider fit for a queen. How can I, and millions of middle-class Americans like me (most of whom have far more than me) not give until it hurts to see that some small amount of suffering is eased?

Ok, enough shilling. You know what to do.

About MyVetPlus

Over on the righthand side and down a ways is a list of links to favorite vet websites, and one of them is the link to MyVetPlus (formerly known as Vetstore, formerly known as VetCentric). In spite of the annoying name changes, it is still the same company that has been providing our online pharmacy services for several years.

I keep trying to edit the content so that only Doctor Gayle-approved products are available there, but it doesn't seem to have worked. So you can not only get all sorts of feline medications and products there, but also dog stuff. Unfortunately I cannot approve any canine medication prescriptions there for you because I haven't seen dogs in my practice for over 18 years. But if you see any dog toys or other OTC items you like, feel free to order them!

I primarily use VetCentric's services for compounding of special medication formulations that I cannot purchase off the shelf from my regular distributor. Those of you with cats in renal failure get your calcitriol from them if I have prescribed it.

Head over there when you get the chance and browse around. We do get a small percentage of the price because they function as a branch of our practice by filling our prescriptions, so your online purchases there help to support Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How Do You Disinfect A Cat?

My new favorite blogger, Dr. Scott Weese over at Worms & Germs, posted this piece back in October about the dilemma posed by owners contaminating their cat when suffering from Norovirus.

"The easiest way to handle this is to avoid vomiting on your pets." Indeed.

Where's that ROFL smilie when I need him??

One Of My Favorite Blogs

I would be utterly remiss if I didn't tell you all about the delightful and informative Worms and Germs blog, brought to us by the University of Guelph Centre for Public Health & Zoonoses in Ontario, Canada. Apparently there is someone in the world with an even greater obsession with zoonoses than me - orders of magnitude greater. And he's a much better writer.

Where else can one learn about 60 lb beavers attacking small children, tarantula hair damage to the eyes, and the appallingly bad advice given to pregnant women by "expert" pediatrician T. Berry Brazleton?

Worms and Germs also has this excellent fact sheet on basic safe cat ownership. And let's not forget about our rabbits and hamsters!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that 2010 is a much better year for ALL of us. It seems like only the bankruptcy attorneys did well in 2009.

We are back to our normal clinic operating schedule now that the holidays are over. Unfortunately, I caught a heck of a head cold right after Christmas and have another case of my famous laryngitis. After 4 days of almost no talking, I thought today would finally be better, and it was for a while, but then I got really chatty with a new client and am back to square one. I may have to use my flash card system and a little pantomime during exams.

At the new year it is traditional to make a resolution - we suggest you resolve to get kitty current on vaccinations if he/she is overdue, feed top quality food, and in general do as much as you can to prevent medical troubles. Senior cats should be seen twice a year for wellness exams (a year in a cat is like 4 years in a human!).

We hope to see you soon!