Feline Health

When Hairballs Are More Than Just Hairballs

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Hairballs are often the topic of jokes and cartoons, but there is nothing funny about a cat who gets frequent hairballs. While the occasional, isolated hairball may be nothing to worry about, there really is no such thing as “just a hairball.”

What is a hairball?

Traditionally it has been thought that hairballs develop because of how cats groom themselves. As cats lick their fur, the tongue’s tiny barbs pull off excess hair. Inevitably, some hair gets swallowed in the process. Ideally, it passes through the body and ends up in stools, but hairballs form when hair wads up in the stomach instead.

However, more recent findings show that hairballs also form because the affected cat’s intestinal motility (the movement of food content from the stomach to the intestines) is impaired, something that most commonly occurs secondary to inflammatory bowel disease, which in turn is caused in almost epidemic proportions by grain-based diets and their adverse effect on the gut flora.Continue Reading

Let’s Talk Titers: Avoid Over-Vaccinating Your Cat

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Guest post by W. Jean Dodds, DVM

Jeannie recently adopted a three-year-old cat from her local shelter. Determined to give her new friend a healthy life, she decided not to have him vaccinated every year. She’d heard that vaccine titers were a good alternative to annual boosters, so she found a veterinarian who offers this option and asked him for more information.

Compelling evidence implicates vaccines in triggering various immune-mediated and other chronic disorders (vaccinosis). In cats, for example, aggressive tumors called fibrosarcomas can occasionally arise at the site of vaccination. While some of these problems have been traced to contaminated or poorly attenuated batches of vaccine that revert to virulence, others apparently reflect a genetic predisposition in an animal to react adversely when given the single (monovalent) or multiple antigen “combo” (polyvalent) products routinely administered to animals. Certain susceptible breeds or families of animal appear to be at increased risk for severe and lingering adverse vaccine reactions.Continue Reading

Go Green for a Healthier Cat and a Happier Planet

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Today is Earth Day, and it’s a good day to remember what going green means: making conscious choices every day about protecting our environment. Recycling, buying organic, and using eco-friendly products are only some of the everyday choices that contribute to a healthier planet.

You can also help the planet by making choices for your cat that will not only benefit the planet, but will also keep your cat healthy.

Feed natural and organic food

Natural and organic pet foods use meats that are raised in sustainable, humane ways without added drugs or hormones, minimally processed, and preserved with natural substances, such as vitamins C and E. Certified-organic pet foods must meet strict USDA standards that spell out how ingredients are produced and processed, Continue Reading

High-tech medicine for your cat: MRI

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most powerful and accurate diagnostic techniques in medicine today, and has become routine in human medicine. For the past ten years, MRI’s have been available for animals. An MRI provides detailed and valuable information without the higher risk involved in invasive procedures such as exploratory surgeries.

MRI’s are considered in the following situations:

  • Brain or spinal cord injuries or abnormalities
  • Futher diagnostics after x-rays or ultrasound are normal, or unclear
  • Lameness
  • Abnormal nasal bleeding, swelling or discharge
  • Chronic ear disease
  • Some foreign bodies

The benefits on an MRI include:Continue Reading

How to Pill a Cat

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Rumor has it there are some cats who take their pills without putting up a fight, but based on my experience, both personal and during my years working in veterinary clinics, most cats don’t like to get pilled, and some have elevated the act of refusing to take medication to an art form.

If you’ve never had to pill your cat before, try the “proper way” first. Maybe your cat will be one of the compliant ones.Continue Reading

Feline Hepatic Lipidosis: Fatty Liver Disease in Cats

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Hepatic lipidosis, more commonly known as fatty liver disesae, is the most fequently seen form of severe liver disease in cats. The liver has many complex functions, including the production of chemicals necessary for digestion and the detoxification of the body. It also plays an important role in metabolism. Because of its vital importance, the body has no way of compensating when the liver fails.

Causes

While hepatic lipidosis is considered idiopathic, which means that the cause is not known, it is almost always preceded by anorexia, a cat’s nearly total avoidance of food. When a body is undernourished or starved, it starts to metabolize its own fat reserves for energy. Cat’s bodies are not able to convert large stores of fat. When a cat is in starvation mode, the fat that is released to the liver is not processed efficiently and is simply stored there, leading to a fatty and low functioning liver.Continue Reading

Detox Your Cat

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Many health problems, in both cats and humans, chronic or otherwise, are caused by day-to-day exposure to toxic substances such as chemicals and other molecules that are foreign to the body. These toxins accumulate in the body over a period of time, often over many years. Research on the human side suggests that more than 75% of cancers are caused by diet and environmental factors. In addition, toxic exposure is a contributing factor to cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Environmental pollutants stockpile in the body contributing to the chronic diseases.

Now consider how much smaller our cats are. It most likely takes a much smaller load of toxins for our pets to cause problems. Additionally, as cats groom themselves, it’s easy for them to ingest any environmental toxins they may have accidentally come in contact with on their fur and paws.Continue Reading

Remote Reiki for You and Your Cat

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Reiki is a hands-on healing method that originated in Japan. It is based on the idea that all living beings have life energy flowing through them. When life energy is high, you and your cats are healthy and balanced, more relaxed and less likely to get sick. When it is low, you and your cats will often be more easily affected by stress and less resistant to illness. Reiki helps return the body to its natural state of balance and well-being. It is a safe complement to conventional Western medicine, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, homeopathy and all other forms of healing.

Reiki offers numerous benefits for both pets and people. It can help with minor things like head aches or stomach aches, colds, flu, tension and anxiety as well as serious illness like cancer and heart disease. It can reduce or eliminate side effects of conventional medical treatment, including the negative effects of chemotherapy and radiation. It can strengthen the immune system and accelerate natural healing following surgery or illness. It can alleviate pain, both acute and chronic.Continue Reading

Stomatitis: Painful for Cats, Frustrating for Guardians and Veterinarians

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Stomatitis is is one of the most painful and frustrating conditions cats can develop. Buckley suffered from this condition; a severe inflammation of the oral cavity in cats in which the affected cat essentially becomes allergic to her own teeth. The outward signs of this condition are red, inflamed, and often ulcerated gums, and this can be very painful for the cat.Continue Reading

Tooth Resorption: A Painfully Common Dental Disease in Cats

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Guest post by Dr. Karen Becker

When a kitty has oral disease, it generally has one of four causes:

  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Oral cancer (especially squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Feline stomatitis (an autoimmune disorder that causes painful inflammation of the mouth, throat or pharynx)
  • Tooth resorption

Tooth resorption is also referred to as cervical line lesions, resorptive lesions, feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs), and (inaccurately) cavities. Of the four major feline oral diseases, tooth resorption is the most common. Estimates are the condition affects between about 30 to 40 percent of healthy adult cats, and from 60 to 80 percent of kitties who visit the vet for treatment of dental disease.Continue Reading

Natural Remedies for Feline Asthma

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Feline asthma is a respiratory condition that involves inflammation and excess mucous build-up in the airways. Muscles spasms cause constriction of the airway, resulting in respiratory distress. Feline asthma shares some characteristics with asthma in humans, including symptoms.

Signs of feline asthma may be as mild as an occasional soft cough and/or a wheeze. At times it may seem as though your cat is trying unsuccessfully to bring up a hairball. In extreme and chronic cases, one might notice a persistent cough along with labored, open-mouth, harsh breathing. At this point, an asthma ‘attack’ could culminate in a life-threatening crisis.Continue Reading