Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gosh, No One Could Have Forseen THIS!

Those of you who have been bringing your kitties to me at Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic have probably heard a rant or two of mine when it comes to feline nutrition. Well, here we go again.

A company producing RAW meat cat food (that should be an oxymoron, but it isn't) has had to recall product due to Salmonella contamination.

No, really. Imagine THAT. And it's got raw chicken. I'm simply stunned.


I guess this is as good a time as any to link back to my original raw meat rant.

The company even admits that raw chicken has a high rate of contamination with Salmonella:
".....Raw meat, especially poultry, harbors pathogens (bacteria). That is why it is essential for you to wash your hands after handling raw meat and to clean surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with raw meat. Approximately 7 percent to 15 percent of all poultry is estimated to be contaminated with Salmonella by the time it reaches the age of slaughter. Therefore, contamination takes place long before the poultry parts ever make it to raw diet manufacturers for processing. The USDA recognizes Salmonella as a fact of life and has even set "tolerance levels" for Salmonella - so poultry producers are allowed to have a certain amount of Salmonella present in their birds....."

Knowing this little factoid should give them substantial pause about the entire raw poultry concept, but they appear to live by magical, wishful thinking.

Oh, and I am not naming the company here because that just gives them free advertising. Click on the link to get the details.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Holiday Weekend Schedule

Dr. Robison is away from the office until Tuesday May 31. Medical care will be unavailable at Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic until then.

If you have a medical emergency during this time, please call Veterinary Specialists of the Valley at 818-883-8387.

If you need a refill of your cat's medication; need to purchase food or retail items; need to call to schedule an appointment for next week; or would like to have us fax a copy of your records someplace else for care, the office will be open for administrative/retail services only on the following schedule:
Thursday May 26 9 AM - noon and 5-6 PM
Friday May 27 9 AM - noon and 5-6 PM
Saturday May 28 CLOSED
Sunday May 29 CLOSED
Monday May 30 CLOSED

Regular hours will resume Tuesday. Have a pleasant weekend!

Feral cats identified as possible Willow Creek rabies source; victim currently in stable condition

For decades I have been harping on the subject of rabies as a public health issue, constantly telling clients, friends, family, and a whole host of other acquaintances that the rabies threat is real, that it is and will always be with us here in North America, and that cats should never be ignored as potential rabies vectors. We have a huge feral cat population in Los Angeles, and they have always troubled me because they are by and large unprotected against this ancient scourge. Our local bats are an ongoing rabies threat, and cats by their curious and predatory natures are especially at risk when rabid bats are around. Where this case occurred rabies is also common in skunks and gray foxes.

So it appears now that a perfect storm of events may have occurred in Northern California: high local incidence of rabid skunks and foxes, with some rabid local bats also; significant feral cat population; susceptible humans. The result is a woman in a fight for her life, and the only good news is that the Milwaukee Protocol appears to be working and she is now in stable condition. Every one of the half dozen rabies survivors worldwide is a small miracle because this viral disease has the highest mortality rate of any infectious disease: essentially 100%.

While I am thrilled at the woman's probable survival, I worry that people will use this as an excuse to have an even more lackadaisical attitude toward rabies than they do now (and that's really saying something). We have a serious feral cat issue here, and they pose a significant zoonotic disease threat even without taking rabies into consideration.

We still need to, as a community, come together to eliminate the feral cat problem, not just perpetuate it by dumping the poor things out on the street after neutering and a one-time vaccination and calling it good. Cats are NOT a native species and have no place in any North American ecosystem other than our households. As domestic animals, they have every right to a clean, safe home; protection from the elements and outdoor hazards; and most importantly, ongoing and adequate medical and preventive care by a licensed veterinarian.

I hope this is a wake up call for Angelenos. I fear that it will not be.

IPad Games for Cats - What Will They Think of Next??

I just got wind of this new way to keep your cat entertained: iPad games for cats. Of course, I don't personally have an iPad, and am unlikely to get one, being a PC girl who doesn't get the Mac cachet, but even I have to admit this is pretty cool.

The games are: Cat Fishing, Tasty Treasures Hunt, and Party Mix-Up.

But please don't take this as an endorsement of Friskies cat food. As you know by now, I oppose the use of fish in cat foods except for very limited situations, and Friskies puts fish in virtually everything they make. I think they also use a bit of wheat gluten in some of their canned foods and that also is a bad idea.

I'm also not sure what sort of damage cat claws could do to one of those rather costly devices.........

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

I came across this article back in April - it details a reporter's experiences as an observer at a veterinary hospital in Wisconsin on one day this year.

I found this part interesting:
"...Doing follow-up research for the story, I came across a British study that revealed the suicide rate of veterinarians is proportionally four times that of the general population and twice that of other doctors and dentists. Job stress, lethal drug access and euthanasia acceptance are among the potential driving forces behind the heightened risk, the study said..."

I wasn't aware of this, but it doesn't surprise me. We certainly know how to do that "dead" thing as part of our professional training, and have access to the tools and drugs to do it. A veterinarian from the class ahead of me in vet school committed suicide just a couple of years after graduating, while he was successfully employed in private practice.

I wonder how the numbers look in light of the economic decline of the past few years? It has almost certainly become more of a problem than ever, because veterinary visits are down so much.

Sigh. I'm gonna go home tonight and tell my kitties how much I love them, and that no matter what, I will always be there for them.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Information for Pet Owners During Disasters

Los Angeles Veterinary Public Health has produced a brochure called Information for Pet Owners During Disasters. If you click on the link you can get a downloadable copy of it.

It seems like these sorts of considerations are in the news right after a disaster, but then they seem to fall out of favor as celebrity divorces and two-headed baby animals get back into the headlines.

I keep plenty of dry cat food on hand at home, and have a 30 gallon hot water tank for fresh water in emergency (accessed via the drain spigot). My cat carriers are clean, handy, and lined with fresh terrycloth towels. I recommend that you also have a summary of your cat's medical history and veterinary contact information stored on your computer on in paper form (I prefer Dropbox for online AND hard drive storage with synchronization for my important personal information).

It's not a bad idea, either, to have a game plan in mind for where you might house kitty temporarily in case of emergency. We can and do board our existing patients if fire threatens or someone has an urgent need to vacate their home temporarily. We are not a public boarding kennel, so your cat won't be needlessly exposed to random hordes of cats from heaven-knows-what background and vaccination status. We DO require that any cats staying with us be current on vaccinations, so if they are overdue they will need to be vaccinated upon entry.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cat Fur

We aren't a grooming parlor, but we DO get involved in feline grooming issues when a groomer can't or won't tackle it. Sometimes this is because a cat is simply too fractious (I like that term - it sounds so much less judgemental than "nasty") to be combed or shaved, and sometimes it is because the groomer sees something scary about the cat's condition and alerts the owner that medical attention is needed, not simply grooming.

Either way, when a cat comes to us with grooming issues, we always start with an EXAMINATION. By the DOCTOR. In the EXAM room. And yes, we do charge for this exam. It's part of what I consider appropriate medical care, and is essential so that we can do a thorough evaluation of the cat's overall needs (we don't treat fur - we treat PATIENTS) and give an accurate fee estimate.

You'd be surprised at the vast number of phone calls we get from people demanding a bath and combout or shave WITHOUT my ever examining the patient. It would be funny if it weren't so sad, because this demand is usually AFTER the receptionist has already explained the need for an EXAM.

And no, we can't tell you how expensive it will be to combout or shave your cat, who we have never seen before, without having a good look at it. We don't have a magic crystal ball to intuit the concomitant kidney failure, or out-of-control hyperthyroidism, or advanced oral cancer that we sometimes see in cats presented for "grooming".

I try not to get frustrated by these things, but it's hard. Especially when it's clear the owner doesn't care nearly as much about their cat's medical well-being as they do their own personal convenience or entertainment budget.

We had a cat come in recently that was old and decrepit, and badly matted. When we got done shaving her, it was hard to tell which was the pile of fur and which was the cat. It ended well - she went home feeling much better than when she came in. But it was scary - and she isn't the worst I've ever seen.

So, which is the cat? And which is the fur? You decide.

Disclaimer: The cat depicted is alive. No cats were harmed in the production of this blog post.

Helpful suggestion: Grooming implements

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fire Hydrant

Earlier this month we had a little adventure out front. A couple of cars over at the In-and-Out Burger driveway got into a dispute and one of them sheared off the fire hydrant as it careened up onto the sidewalk.

When it happened, Alison and I were wasting time chatting in my office. Mid-sentence she flinched, turned around, and walked quickly up front. She had heard the cars collide but didn't know what the sound was.

Much laughter and shouting ensued as she excitedly informed me of the geyser across the street and I grabbed my camera. And I actually remembered to take pictures!

Fortunately, LAFD was quickly on scene and it only took about 5 minutes before the water was shut off. It took a while for the traffic to clear, though. This happened just as Taft HS was letting out.

The geyser:

The cavalry has arrived:

All fixed:

Now, most of you probably won't see the humor in this. But the exact same thing happened to the fire hydrant 20 feet from my apartment late one night a couple of months ago, and the geyser came down directly on my (flat) roof, making me wonder if my bedroom would soon be flooded. And there was also the kerfuffle with the switchblade-wielding lunatic trying to carjack people at my apartment complex in March, but that's another story altogether and not cat-related at all other than the part about my cats gawking at him when he broke his bedroom window not 30 feet away.....

I have had quite enough excitement of late, thank you.

Video of Cat Giving Birth

Not many people living in Los Angeles these days have seen a cat actually giving birth. But thanks to the wonders of the intertubes, we have THIS VIDEO of a cat "queening".

While it's a wonderfully educational video, I do have one concern. Queening cats do far better if they are left alone in a dark, quiet place without humans or other animals around to disturb them. It is uncommon, but they have been known to kill and eat their kittens when overstressed by their presence.

The average litter size is 3 or 4, but I have personally seen a litter of 7 and I think more is not unheard of.

We still recommend spaying female cats at age 6 months to prevent pregnancy and greatly lower the risk of mammary cancer. In this economy, too few kittens are being adopted into good homes, so watch the video and have your own cat spayed before she can have any.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fun With Bunnehs

When I first read about this, I was certain it had to be from The Onion (the world's best online satire magazine). But it's not. It's real.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Showjumping Bunnies.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Health Certificates

If you are planning airline travel for your kitty within the United States, or travel by any means to another country, your cat will need a health certificate. Issuance of health certificates is regulated by state and federal government, and laws regarding import of animals are a matter for the country you are importing to. Veterinarians may only issue health certificates if they are federally accredited (I am and have been since 1983). Airlines typically require health certificates even if the animal is flying within a single state.

In order for us to issue either an interstate or international health certificate, we will need to examine your cat during an office visit, and you will need to make an appointment for this. WE CANNOT LEGALLY ISSUE A HEALTH CERTIFICATE WITHOUT PERFORMING A PHYSICAL EXAM AT THE TIME IT IS ISSUED. This point is not negotiable. Advance planning is the order of the day - you should look into legal requirements as soon as you know you are traveling - please do not wait until the day before you plan to fly to Australia or Hawaii to start the ball rolling.

Interstate travel:

Call your airline or check their website to find out what their travel requirements for pets are. How much does it cost to fly your pet? What restrictions are there on pets traveling in the cabin (carrier size is an issue here)? What sort of paperwork is required for your pet to fly (airlines differ greatly here - some no longer require health certificates at all - some are very strict in their requirement that you provide one).

Do your due diligence and check your state websites, too! Hawaii is the only state with major restrictions on animal importation due to its rabies-free status. The four-month process with allows you to import a cat to Hawaii without a lengthy quarantine is not often fully complied with, so some owners, after doing what they think is the right thing, STILL wind up having to quarantine Fluffy for 4 months at the end. Don't let this happen to you - it's a horribly expensive mistake and very distressing for pet and owner.

International travel:

This is where we see lots of problems leading up to transport. Failure to adequately plan for transportation and allow enough time to comply with all regulations imposed by the importing country is a constant and ongoing issue. Fortunately, due to the wonders of the internet, owners are much better able these days to navigate the minefield that shipping a cat to someplace like Japan or Australia or England can be. Every country has a website that spells out the process in plain English.

Most countries don't require anything other than an exam, health certificate, and current vaccinations (particularly rabies). In these cases it's a simple process involving only one vet visit, generally within a week or two of travel. If you need to submit the health certificate to the USDA in Sacramento for their stamp of approval, you need to allow time for that, too.

If you are traveling to a rabies-free country, be prepared for a long, drawn-out process of exams, vaccinations, blood tests, microchipping, more exams, more vaccinations, etc. And you have to get it JUST RIGHT, or it's the same as not complying at all. So again, do your due diligence and know exactly what you are getting into. Never take a cat to a foreign country on a whim or if it's not absolutely necessary.

Here are links to the pet importation web pages of some of the most common (or challenging) travel destinations:

Hawaii pet importation brochure - this thing's more like a book!

Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Bringing Cats and Dogs to Australia

Traveling With Pets to the UK

Taking Pets to Japan - translation is a little bit problematic with this website, in my opinion. PDF of current requirements is HERE.



And here's the USDA page on pet travel with important links.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Bush Out Front

Those of you who have been clients for a while may vaguely recall the lovely crape myrtle tree out front that was mercilessly hacked down one weekend years ago, presumably by agents of the pizza shop manager next door who complained to me that it blocked views of his sign. The stump of the tree soldiered on, valiantly putting out suckers every spring, which my dear landlord faithfully kept trimmed into a semi-tidy bush.

A couple of weeks ago, an aide from Councilman Zine's office stopped by to talk about the "bush" and the need to remove it as the next step in the tree-planting beautification project along Ventura Blvd. We don't own the property it sits on (it belongs to the pizza shop/dental office building next door) so we can't give the final okay, but I told him we and every other business owner in the area that I knew of were eager to get a nice new REAL tree back in there.

Well, last weekend the bush/stump was removed. So I guess we are going to get our new tree one of these days pretty soon!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Other Blogs

I snagged web addresses to set up two other blogs for the sole purpose of directing viewers to THIS blog. Though since you are already here and reading this, I guess YOU, constant reader, don't need them. But FYI, www.catsmeowveterinaryclinic.blogspot.com and www.gaylerobisondvm.blogspot.com do now exist. I wish every web address involving my practice name were available, and some ARE (for a PRICE), but I am happy with the blog format for keeping clients informed rather than traditional business website formats, so here I am and here I will stay.

Please just remember if you give my blog address to others verbally or in writing that it has BLOGSPOT in it.