emergency

Leeo Smart Alert Protects Your Cats and Your Home

cat-fireplace

This post is sponsored by Leeo Smart Alert

It’s every cat guardian’s worst nightmare: you’re away from home, and there’s a gas leak, or a fire starts somewhere in your home. According to the US Fire Administration, more than half a million pets are affected by house fires each year, and 40,000 actually perish, so this is not an unfounded cause for concern. With the advent of webcams, monitoring your home while you’re gone has become easier and more commonplace, but a webcam requires constant monitoring and it can’t alert you when there is a problem like the presence of deadly carbon monoxide or when a smoke alarm is sounding.

Leeo Smart Alert is a simple device that continuously listens to your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and sends an alert to your smartphone so you can immediately call for help or get home as fast as you can.Continue Reading

Urinary Blockage: A Serious Problem in Cats

orange and white male cat

Guest post by Lorie Huston, DVM

If your male cat is unable to urinate, he needs veterinary care immediately.

Feline urinary blockages are a true emergency and cats, particularly male cats, that are unable to urinate require emergency veterinary care in order to save their life.

What Is Feline Urinary Blockage?

More accurately termed feline urethral blockage, a urinary blockage occurs when the urethra of the cat (the tube that runs from the urinary bladder through the penis and to the outside of the body) becomes obstructed with stones, crystals or sludge. This blockage results in your cat being unable to urinate.

A Blocked Cat Represents an Emergency Situation

A urinary blockage will quickly become a life-threatening problem for your cat. Without immediate veterinary intervention to relieve the blockage, your cat will likely die from this disease.

Essentially, in a normal healthy cat that is urinating, waste products that are produced by the body are eliminated through the urine. When your cat is unable to urinate, he is also unable to rid his body of these waste products. In effect, a blocked cat ends up poisoning himself on his own waste.

Which Cats Are Likely to Become Blocked?

Cats that develop urinary blockages are almost always male. In the male cat, the urethra narrows as it passes through the penis. This is where most obstructions occur. Female cats are anatomically different than males and do not have this narrowing in the urethra. As a result, female cats rarely become obstructed.

Any male cat has the potential to become obstructed. I see more obstructions in neutered male cats than un-neutered males. This may be due to the fact that the vast majority of my male feline patients are neutered though. I also see more overweight cats experiencing urinary blockages. But I have seen un-neutered male cats in perfect body condition become obstructed as well.

Symptoms of Feline Urinary Blockage

Cats that are blocked will cry in pain and will make frequent attempts to urinate either in the litter box or outside of the litter box. Vomiting is common as toxicity develops. As your cat becomes more ill, he will stop eating and become lethargic. Eventually, your cat may even reach a comatose state. Urinary blockages are frequently fatal for cats and the course of events can happen relatively quickly. Cats that are blocked can go from being healthy in the morning to being in serious condition by later that same day.

Treatment for Urinary Blockage

Treatment involves relieving the obstruction, most often by passing a catheter through the urethra and into the bladder. The catheter may need to be left in place for a time after its placement to give the inflammation in the urethra time to resolve. During this time, your cat will actually be urinating through the catheter. Sedation is necessary in most instances in order to pass the catheter.

Supportive care in the form of intravenous fluids and other treatment as necessary to restore normal kidney function will be necessary also. Your veterinarian may want to monitor your cat’s blood values, particularly the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine, to make certain that your cat’s kidneys are stabilizing. BUN and creatinine both provide measures of the amount of nitrogenous waste products present in the blood stream and are frequently used to check to check kidney function.

If stones are present in the urinary bladder, surgical removal may be recommended. Your veterinarian may recommend radiographs (x-rays) of your cat’s bladder to see if there are stones present. A urinalysis and culture/sensitivity of the urine will also likely be performed.

Your veterinarian may recommend placing your cat on a special diet once his recovery has begun. There are commercial diets that can help dissolve crystals and stones in the bladder and, depending on your cat’s individual situation, your veterinarian may recommend one of these diets. A canned diet may also be recommended to increase the amount of moisture consumed by your cat.

Encouraging your cat to drink water through the use of dripping faucets or water fountains is a good idea. Some people also add water to their cat’s food to increase water consumption.

Lorie Huston practiced veterinary medicine for over 20 years. Besides a successful career in a busy small animal hospital in Providence, RI, Lorie was also a successful freelance writer specializing in pet care and pet health topics. She was the president of the Cat Writers Association. Lorie Huston passed away in October of 2014 after becoming critically ill. 

Related reading:

How to prevent litter box problems

Chronic renal disease in cats

Who Will Care For Your Cat If You Can’t?

grey cat

Nobody wants to think about becoming ill, incapacitated, or dying, but as responsible cat parents, we owe it to our cats to think ahead and make arrangements for their care when we can’t be there to take care of them anymore. There are a number things you can do to ensure peace of mind not just for yourself, but for family and friends who may not know what to do in the event of your death or any other emergency.

Designate a caretaker

Find one or two responsible friends or relatives who will agree to take care of your cat if something unexpected happens to you. Ideally, these will be people who know your cat, and who your cat is familiar with. Provide them with keys to your home, and make sure they know your cat’s basic routine when it comes to feeding and care. Make sure they have your veterinarian’s contact information.  Another option for this may be your trusted cat sitter, but be sure to make arrangements for their fees to get paid out of your estate.

Discuss your expectations

When choosing a caregiver for your cat, thoroughly discuss your expectations with that person. Do you expect them to give your cat a permanent home, or do you want their help to care for your cat temporarily while they find a new home for her? Remember that this person will have complete control over your cat’s care, including making decisions about veterinary care, so make sure that you choose someone you trust to make the same or similar decisions to what you would choose. Always have an alternate caregiver, and stay in touch with both the primary and alternate caregiver periodically to ensure that the arrangements you made are still valid. Peoples’ lives change, and while someone may have been the ideal caregiver at one point, circumstances may prohibit them from being available if and when the time comes.

Consider a humane organization

If you can’t find an individual to help, you can consider a humane organization, but be aware that most organizations do not have the room or the funds to care for your cat, and they certainly can’t guarantee that your pet will find a new home. There are a few organizations that specialize in caring for pets of deceased owners, but it’s probably never an ideal situation. Your cat was used to living in a home, with all the love and attention that comes with that, and ending up even with the best of these types of organizations will most likely be extremely stressful for most cats.

Legalize the arrangement

Once you have found one or two potential caregivers, legalize the arrangement. There are a number of options, including wills and trusts, and which is right for you will depend on your situation. Requirements will vary by state. Trusts are  becoming more popular because they allow you more control over how your pet will be cared for. The goal is to end up with a legal document that provides for continued care for your cat either on a permanent basis or until a new home is found for him. The arrangements should include authorizing sufficient funds from your estate to care for your cat temporarily, as well as cover costs to look for a new home. Keep in mind that it can take weeks or even months to find an appropriate new home for cats, especially if they are older or have special needs, so be sure to allocate sufficient funds.

Your best bet is to consult with an attorney about the legal aspects of the arrangement. There are also numerous online services available that provide low-cost help to set up standard legal documents. I used LegalZoom for a number of documents such as my will, power-of-attorney, medical directive, and more, and I’ve been pleased with their services.

If you already have legal documents in place to care for your cat, remember to review them periodically to ensure that they will still meet your cat’s needs.

Additional considerations

There are a few other things you can do to ensure continued care for your cats in the event that something happens to you:

  • Carry a wallet alert card with contact information for your emergency care givers.
  • Make sure that emergency care givers know how to contact each other.
  • Post emergency contact notices inside your front door. Include favorite hiding places for your cats on this listing – depending on your cat’s temperament, he may be scared when a stranger enters your house.

This is the kind of thing that none of us want to deal with, but once you’ve put these arrangements in place, you won’t have to worry about your cats ending up at a shelter, or worse, euthanized, because there were no other options.

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pet: 8 Things I Learned from 8 State Hurricane Kate

Guest Post by Jenny Pavlovic

8 State Hurricane Kate, an old Australian Cattle Dog, was rescued in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I met her at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA, where rescued animals were taken for care and shelter, almost three weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Her paperwork said that she was rescued from a rooftop nine days after Katrina, with no known ID or address. She was lost, down for the count, and quickly running out of options, so I decided to foster her. When we had to evacuate for Hurricane Rita, I drove 1,200 miles home to Minnesota with Kate in the back seat. We traveled through eight states, which is how she got her name. I listed her on Petfinder and went to great lengths to find out where she came from. I even posted this “Do You Know This Dog?” video on YouTube.  Yet now, almost 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, I still don’t know what her life was like before August 29th, 2005. Somebody must still wonder what became of her.

Kate was a dog, but her story holds valuable lessons for cats and other animals as well.  All that I learned from my journey with Kate inspired me to write the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book, to keep all of my dogs’ information in one place, for daily use, travel, and emergencies. This book includes important information from Noah’s Wish, a group dedicated to taking care of animals in disasters.  The following tips can help keep you and your pets safer and happier.

8 Things I Learned from 8 State Kate

1. Microchip your pet. We learned after Katrina how easily lost pets can lose their collars and ID tags. A microchip implanted under the pet’s skin is the only sure way to have permanent ID and to verify ownership. A microchip is a small electronic chip with a unique ID number, in a capsule about the size of a grain of rice. Once implanted, the chip is read by a hand-held scanner and the microchip company is notified of the ID number. You need to register your contact information with the microchip company so they can use the ID number to reach you. A microchip will only reunite you with your pet if the company knows how to reach you. You may also register the microchip and your information at http://www.petlink.net/, a 24-7 registry and recovery service. Even if your pet never leaves the house, I recommend a microchip. A flood, tornado, hurricane, or even a surprise bolt out the door can separate you. A cat that carries no other ID is especially vulnerable without a microchip. Some communities now offer single-fee lifetime licensing for pets that are microchipped. 

2. Keep good pet records, including a current photo of you with your pet (to verify ownership) and photos of your pet’s unique identifying characteristics (markings, scars, etc.). Store your pet’s vet, food and medication records in one place (like the Not Without My Dog book). Include information like the pet’s daily routine, words the pet knows, and other tips that would be useful to someone taking care of your pet in an emergency situation. Make sure a designated family member, friend or neighbor knows where your pet’s information is stored, in case something happens to you. 

3. Make a disaster plan for your family and pets. Be aware of the most likely disasters in your area: floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, chemical spills, etc. Be prepared to survive without outside assistance if you must stay in your home during a natural disaster. Prepare a disaster kit to meet the basic needs of your family and pets for three days or more. Store it in waterproof containers that are easily accessible. Know the local evacuation routes and where you will take your pets if you must leave your home. Do not leave your pets behind. Know how you will transport them and where you will go. Have plan A, B, and C destinations (emergency shelters for people most often do not allow pets). http://www.petswelcome.com/, and http://www.pet-friendly-hotels.net/ may provide helpful information, but remember that hotels may fill quickly in a disaster situation. Does your family, including pets, fit in one vehicle? If not, how will you transport everyone to safety? Do you have carriers, leashes, and harnesses for all of your pets? 

4. Have a family communication plan in case a disaster occurs while you’re separated at work and school. Know where your family will meet if you can’t reach each other by phone. If all family members are away from home during the day, identify a neighbor or petsitter who will get to your pets quickly if they need help. It’s better to ask for help now than to be without a plan. 

5. Make sure your pets are properly vaccinated and treated for fleas and ticks, and on heartworm preventative. Healthy pets are better prepared to survive anything, including possible displacement, and housing with other animals. Accepted vaccination protocols are changing and some over-the-counter flea and tick treatments are not approved by veterinarians. Do your own research and decide what is best for your pet. 

6. Train and socialize your pets. A positively trained pet will be more comfortable and less likely to get lost. Socialize dogs and cats so they’ll be confident (not fearful) in different situations. Make sure your pets are comfortable riding in their carriers in the car and know how to walk on a leash/harness. Teach your pets to wait before jumping out of the car (after a pause, give them a treat). You may think that you can’t train a cat. But I used to have a cat that came when I called “Come get a fishy treat!” because I always produced a “fishy treat” when she arrived (ok, maybe she was training me!). This trick can help you find a pet that’s hiding under a foundation or lost in the neighborhood. 

7. Tune in to your pets. They’re tuned in to you. Give them opportunities to do what they were bred to do. Help them relax and be confident. Appreciate them for who they are. The more connected you are to your pets, the better you will weather anything together. 

8. Be resilient. An old girl who has lost everything can recover with dignity and grace, and be happy. Kate taught me this too.  

Jenny Pavlovic is the author of the award-winning 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog and the new Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book. There just may be a Not Without My Cat Resource & Record Book in her future.  You can learn more about Jenny on her website or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.   (Photo credit:  LS Originals of Fridley, Minnesota)

Read my review of 8 State Hurricane Kate here.

First Aid for Cats

first-aid-for-cats

Would you know what to do if your pet had a medical emergency?  Administering first aid until you can get your pet to a veterinarian can save your pet’s life.  Most of us have some basic knowledge of first aid for humans – but would you know what to do for your pet?

The following situations will generally all require the attention of a veterinarian, and are only designed to help you stabilize your pet until you can reach your veterinary hospital.

Bleeding

Arterial bleeding is an immediate, life-threatening emergency.  Arterial blood will be bright red, bleed in spurts, and will be difficult to stop.  For any type of bleeding, place a clean cloth or sterile gauze over the injured area and apply direct pressure for at least 5-7 minutes.  Don’t apply a tourniquet unless absolutely necessary.

Loss of Consciousness

In case of drowning, clear the lungs of fluid by lifting the animal’s hindquarters higher than his head and squeezing the chest firmly until fluid stops draining.  In case of electrical shock, DO NOT touch the pet until it is no longer in contact with the electrical source, or you’ll get shocked yourself.  In case of airway obstruction, check for a foreign object and attempt to gently remove it (see Choking).  If the animal is not breathing or has no pulse, begin CPR.

Vomiting

Pets vomit for many reasons, not all of them are medical emergencies.  In order to determine whether you’re dealing with an emergency, examine vomit for blood or other clues as to cause.  If you suspect poisoning, bring a sample of the suspected poison, preferably in its original packaging, to the veterinarian.  Gently press the pet’s stomach to check for any abdominal pain.  Abdominal pain, enlarged stomach, and unproductive vomiting are serious signs – call your veterinarian immediately.

Choking

Gently pull your pet’s tongue forward and inspect mouth and throat.  If you can see a foreign object, hold the mouth open and try to remove it by hand,with tweezers, or a small pair of pliers.  Take care not to push the object further down the animal’s throat.  If the animal is not breathing, start CPR.

Heat Stroke

This is a life-threatening emergency.  If you can’t get your pet to a veterinarian immediately, place the pet in a cool or shady area.  Bathe the animal with tepid water, and monitor rectal temperature.  When temperature drops below 103°, dry the pet off.  Continue monitoring temperature while transporting your pet to the clinic.

Bee or Wasp Sting

Bee stings are acid, use baking soda to neutralize the venom.  Wasp stings are alkaline, use vinegar or lemon juice to neutralize the venom.  Apply a cold pack to the sting.  Watch for allergic reactions – in case of severe swelling or difficulty breathing, transport your pet to a clinic immediately.

CPR

Lay the animal on his side and remove any airway obstructions.  If the airway is clear, extend the animal’s neck, hold the tongue out of his mouth, and close the animal’s jaw over his tongue.  Holding the jaws closed, breathe into both nostrils for 5 to 6 breaths.  If there is no response, continue artificial respiration.

If there is also no pulse, begin cardiac compressions.  Depress the widest part of the chest wall 1.5 to 3 inches with one or two hands:
Dogs over 60 lbs:  60 times per minute
Animals 11-60 lbs:  80-100 times per minute
Animals 5-11 lbs:  120-140 times per minute
For very small animals (1-5 lbs), place hands around the pet’s ribcage and begin cardiac massage.

Continue artificial respiration:
Dogs over 60 lbs:  12 breaths per  minute
Animals 11-60 lbs:  16-20 breaths per minute
Animals less than 10 lbs:  30+ breaths per minute

Normal Vital Signs

Normal temperature for dogs and cats:  100.5° – 102.5°
Normal heart rate for cats:  160-240 beats per minutes
Normal heart rates for dogs:  70-160 beats per minute
Normal respiratory rate for cats:  20-30 breaths per minute
Normal respiratory rate for dogs:  10-30 breaths per minute

The American Red Cross offers Pet Safety and First Aid check lists and training.  Check your local chapter for a course in your area.  They also offer cat and dog first aid books that come with a DVD demonstrating some of the techniques.