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!!