Monday, March 11, 2013

Cats With Fight Wounds

Spring and summer are the seasonal breeding period for cats, so this is when the toms are out and about, looking for trouble and creating it where there's a lack. They will typically beat up on the spayed females and neutered males in the area, causing all manner of injuries.

We tend to see claw scratches on the face, and serious eye injuries can result. But claws do not deliver the most significant fight injuries - that honor goes to the teeth.

Cats have long, sharp, pointed fangs (canines in doctor-speak) which deliver small but deep puncture wounds. The fangs also do a great job of inoculating bacteria deep inside the wounds, which then seal up rapidly due to their small entry point. After a day or two of incubating, the bacterial population in the wound explodes, the cat's immune system throws a few million white blood cells into the mixture, and you've got a smelly, oozing mess full of pus.

Most people are more than happy to come running to Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic at that point, which makes me a happy camper. I not only get to do surgery on an abscess that is enough to turn the strongest of stomachs, which is reward enough in itself - I also get paid to do my magic. In spite of their horrible appearance and nasty odor, bite wound abscesses are among the most rewarding and simple of conditions I am asked to treat.

The downside is this: abscess treatment easily runs $300-400, and can go higher depending on circumstances and if complications develop. It's not cheap, and in spite of pet medical insurance being available for decades, most clients still haven't jumped on board with the idea.

But it doesn't have to be like this. All bite wound abscesses begin with a bite wound. If clients were to bring their cats in within the first 6-8 hours of a fight and we had the chance to put it on prophylactic antibiotics, most of these would never develop into an abscess in the first place. And that's a whole lot less expensive.

So the next time you suspect or know that your cat has been in a fight, make an appointment for an immediate exam so we can assess the need for treatment before it ever gets icky.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Sick, Elderly Cat

Well, I feel terrible about not blogging for a while. I don't have an excuse other than that I spend too much time on Facebook - to my credit, this time is often spent sharing fascinating (and not-so-fascinating) web articles about various aspects of cats and cat health. Ok, I confess: Grumpy Cat, Simon's Cat, and Henri pics and videos, too.

Meanwhile, back at the clinic (oh yeah, I have doctor responsibilities), we had an interesting case today. Little old Charlotte, an elderly female domestic medium-hair who a loyal longstanding client of mine adopted a couple of years ago. came in with a complaint of eating ravenously but losing weight, accompanied by chronic vomiting. On exam my most remarkable finding was a heart rate of 280.

Lest you be trying to faint on me, you should be aware that 280 beats per minute is not the highest heart rate I've ever observed in a cat - that honor goes to the elderly Siamese nearly 20 years ago who topped out at around 320. But 280 is bad enough.

This particular set of symptoms, along with the cat's age (16 years or more), makes me highly suspicious of hyperthyroidism. Feline hyperthyroidism is not rare in older cats, and is fatal if untreated. I proposed a diagnostic workup along the lines of a blood panel and complete urinalysis including culture and sensitivity if indicated. We also cleaned the cat's teeth, which were still remarkably solid in spite of a heavy accumulation of calculus (yes, I know that I am always calling it "tartar" in casual conversation, but the correct term is calculus - so sue me).

This particular client has fallen on hard times lately, but he has a long track record with us and always tries to do as much as he can for his kitties. When he leaned toward declining the dentistry and urinalysis due to cost, I took the opportunity to offer covering whatever he couldn't with funds in our Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic Charitable Fund. So Charlotte got the whole shebang, and her owner won't wind up on the street.

We created our charitable fund with this sort of situation in mind, along with using it to help the occasional homeless or about-to-become-homeless-and-needs-fostering cat - we've had more than a few of the latter come through here over the years. We accept donations in any amount - you can add a small amount to your bill when you check out, or you can just come in and donate, or mail us a check. We are always looking for suckers aka kind, generous cat lovers to pitch in and help the cause.