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.