Feline Health

Why is Veterinary Care so Expensive?

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If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this question, I’d be a wealthy woman! What most people don’t realize is that, relatively speaking, veterinary care, especially when compared to human healthcare, is actually not at all unreasonable. As a former veterinary hospital manager, I can give you some behind the scenes insight into what makes up the cost of veterinary care.

Your cat’s veterinarian is not just your cat’s “family doctor”

Your cat’s vet is also her surgeon, radiologist, dentist, dermatologist, neurologist, ophthalmologist, psychiatrist, ears/nose/throat doctor, and pharmacist, all rolled into one. I’ve always felt that a veterinarian’s training and schooling is far more rigorous and complex than that of a physician. Not only can their patients not talk to them and tell them what’s wrong, but they have to study more than one species. During the first years of veterinary school, students also have to study large animal medicine, even if they know they’re never going to practice it. And even within the small animal track, there are multiple anatomies and disease processes to learn for each species, be it cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits, or even scaly critters.

A veterinary clinic is a business

Just like any other business, Continue Reading

What You Should Know When Your Cat Needs to Go Under Anesthesia

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Most cat guardians worry when their cats have to go under anesthesia. I’m certainly one of them. Even though I’ve assisted with all sorts of anesthetic procedures and surgeries in my years working in veterinary clinics, understanding how it all works, and what constitutes safe anesthetic practice, still doesn’t completely take the worry out of it.

Knowing what to expect when your cat has to undergo anesthesia, and knowing the right questions to ask at your veterinary clinic prior to the procedure so that you can be sure that  your cat’s anesthesia will be done in the safest possible way, can help ease the worry factor.

The recently released AAHA anesthesia guidelines for dogs and cats (AAHA is the American Animal Hospital Association) cover the entire process from pre-anesthetic evaluation to recovery. Make sure that at a minimum, your vet adheres to these guidelines.

Here’s what happens prior to, during and after anesthesia:Continue Reading

Finding a cat-friendly vet

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Cats are notoriously underserved when it comes to veterinary care. The  American Association of Feline Practitioners shares the following statistics:

  • In the United States, there are 86 Million Owned Cats and 78 Million Owned Dogs.
  • Almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian.
  • Of the cats that do visit the veterinarian, they average 26% fewer visits than dogs.
  • 41% of cat owners visit the veterinarian only for vaccinations.
  • 39% of cat owners say they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if the cat was sick.
  • 60% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian.
  • 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice.

These numbers are alarming, because  they support the misconception that cats don’t need the same level of care as dogs.Continue Reading

Can you give your cat the flu?

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With flu season upon us, it’s time to think about boosting your immune system so you don’t get sick. And if you need even more incentive to stay healthy this winter, consider this: it turns out that humans can give the flu to cats.

The first case of a cat getting the flu from humans was identified in 2009, when the H1N1 (swine flu) strain was identified in a cat in Iowa. Since then, there have been a handful of other cases of the flu being passed from humans to cats, dogs or ferrets. Veterinary researchers at Oregon State University and Iowa State University are working to find more cases of this type of disease transmission and better understand any risks they pose to people and pets.

Even though this phenomenon appears to be rare, it’s something to be aware of if you get sick this winter.

If your cat were to get the flu, Continue Reading

Herbal Medicine: A New Option for Treating Feline Hyperthyroidism?

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Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that typically affects middle-aged and older cats.  It is caused by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which are produced by the thyroid gland, located inside the cat’s neck. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all organs, which is why thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems such as hypertension, heart and kidney disease.

There are currently three treatment options:  lifelong medication, surgery, and the gold standard, radioactive iodine therapy.

There is also a new feline prescription diet on the market that is said to cure feline hyperthyroidism in 3 weeks. The diet has not been available long enough to really know whether it is safe to feed longterm, and it is only effective therapeutically when it’s used as the sole source of nutrition. No treats, no supplements, no table scraps. You can read more about the diet, and my take on it, here.

There may be another option: at a recent meeting Continue Reading

Living with an arthritic senior cat

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Guest post by Lorie Huston, DVM

Living with a senior cat has rewards as well as challenges that are a bit different than those encountered when living with a younger cat. Pain is, of course, something we don’t want to see in any of our pets. However, senior cats are more likely to develop conditions and illnesses that create pain and discomfort. Arthritis is a common but often unrecognized disorder in older cats. In one study, 90 percent of cats over 12 years of age showed radiographic (X-ray) evidence of arthritis*.

Unfortunately, recognizing arthritis in cats is challenging at best. Many of our cats hide their pain very effectively. While we may sometimes see our older cat limping or favoring one leg or another, more often than not our arthritic cats simply become less active. They spend more time sleeping and resting. They may be reluctant to jump onto surfaces that were easily accessible previously. In fact, many of us mistake these symptoms of arthritis for normal aging. Too often, we simply assume that it’s normal for an older cat to sleep moreContinue Reading

In praise of veterinary technicians

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When your cat goes to the veterinary hospital, chances are she’s going to spend much more time with veterinary technicians or other veterinary staff members than with the veterinarian. Veterinary technicians are educated in the latest medical advances and skilled at working alongside veterinarians to give cats the best medical care possible.

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, Inc. (NAVTA) has designated October 14 through 20 as National Veterinary Technician Week. “Technicians are an integral part of the pet healthcare team, and play an important role in veterinary care, to both the client and their pets,” said Catherine Holly, CVT, president of NAVTA. “It’s important that we take the time to celebrate technicians. Not only do they provide top-notch care to our pets, but also put in long hours as researchers, and are oftentimes specialized. We just want people to know how valuable technicians actually are.”

I don’t much care for the term “technician” with its connotations of Continue Reading

What does holistic cat care mean to you?

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The term “holistic” means different things to different people. Wikipedia defines holistic health as a “concept in medical practice upholding that all aspects of people’s needs, psychological, physical and social should be taken into account and seen as a whole.” The term “holistic” is often used interchangeably with “alternative” when it comes to health.

When I refer to a holistic approach to health care, whether it’s for cats or for humans, I mean an approach that takes into account all aspects of what make up a living being: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Looking at health, and illness, holistically, also means looking for, and treating, the cause of a problem or illness, rather than just treating symptoms. Symptoms are almost always a manifestation of a deeper problem.

Holistic therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbal treatments are gaining increasing acceptance for cats, as moreContinue Reading

Save on Cat Care Expenses Without Compromising Your Cat’s Health

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Costs for pet health care, food and other supplies continue to increase just as human health care and food costs are rising. There’s plenty of advice out there on how to save on pet care expenses. Suggestions range from price-shopping for a vet to foregoing veterinary care altogether in favor of at-home “medical” care, purchasing vaccines online and administering them yourself, and buying the cheapest food. All of this advice couldn’t be more wrong, and will most likely put your cat’s health at risk.

The following tips can help you save on cat care expenses without compromising your cat’s health:Continue Reading

Nursing Care for Your Cat

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When your cat is recovering from a serious illness, surgery or an accident, she may require extended nursing care when she returns from the veterinary hospital. Providing nursing care can seem overwhelming, but most cats will recover more quickly if they’re at home in their familiar environment with the person they love.

The following tips can help take the stress out of caring for your cat after an illness or accident.

Provide a safe and quiet place for her to recuperate

Your cat’s personality, and the severity of the illness, will determine the right approach. If your cat seems to do better if she can access all her familiar places, than by all means, let her do so. But if she seems to want to just stay in one place, make the area as comfortable as you can for her. Provide plenty of blankets and soft bedding, and make sure that she has easy access to a litter box and fresh water.

Encourage your cat to eat

Try using flat dishes or paper plates.Continue Reading