Bookmark this page as we update often! The Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital blog features our Cat of the Month, interesting cases, and important information about the care of your cat.
De-stressing your cat's veterinary visit - 11/05/2018
The thought of your cat's annual exam shouldn't make you both want to hide under a towel!
At Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital, we know how stressful it can be for your cat to come visit us. We also know, that what stresses your cat also stresses YOU! You want to take the best care of your cat that you can, but you sometimes wonder if all the crying during the car ride, or the hissing in the exam room is worth it. We get that. We don’t like to see your cat stressed out, and we don’t want you to be stressed during your visit, either.
However, regular exams with your veterinarian are so important, especially as your cat ages. There are common diseases in older cats that can sometimes be difficult to pick up on at home due to their subtle signs. That’s where your veterinarian comes in! A complete, whisker to tail physical examination will help reveal some of those elusive signs, and your conversation with the veterinary team will help pick up on other signs, such as increased vomiting, increased or decreased energy, night-time howling, bigger urine clumps, and increased thirst in your cat; these are all signs of common diseases in older cats such as diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, and chronic kidney disease.
Even if your cat is indoors, he or she still needs to visit the veterinarian. Indoor cats can still get fleas, are still at risk for heartworm disease, and still may be exposed to rabies if a bat enters your home. If you have a kitten, he or she may need to visit every few weeks for the first few months, in order to get booster vaccines. Between 2-8 years of age, a visit every year is typically sufficient, if your cat is indoor only. However, as your cat approaches 8-9 years of age, ideally those visits should be twice a year. We recommend checking patients’ blood pressure at least twice yearly, as some patients with hypertension can display signs of retinal damage after only a few weeks of chronic high blood pressure. After all, the sooner we pick up on medical problems, the sooner we can treat it and the better the prognosis!
With most of our feline patients, our Feline Friendly Handling Guidelines allow us to perform exams and treatments with limited stress. A calm and quiet environment, skilled and gentle handling, knowledge of feline behavior and body language, Feliway diffusers in the exam room that give off calming pheromones, warm towels, and making slow, steady movements all help provide an environment most likely to make a cat feel safe. But some cats are so stressed by any part of the whole experience that they go into defensive mode for self-protection.
Here are some great tips to help decrease the stress you and your cat experience when you visit:
Conquer the Carrier Crisis
Many dogs enjoy getting in the car and going for a ride because they never know if they are going to the pet store, grandma’s house, the dog park, or McDonald’s for a hamburger! On the other hand, most cats only see the carrier when it’s time to see the vet, which makes it a doubly scary thing.
You're never too young to learn about the carrier!
If you start acclimating your cat to the carrier when they are young, you may be able to make your cat like the carrier right away, but even older cats can learn to fear the carrier less if you let them get used to the idea. The best carriers are those that can have the top removed by unclasping it or unzipping, so the cat can be examined in the carrier if they want (more on that, later!). If you start weeks prior to your annual visit by introducing the bottom half of your carrier in a room that your cat likes to spend time in, your cat will start to see it as less of a threat.
Offer your cat a bowl of delicious food or special treats in the carrier to encourage him to inspect the carrier at his leisure. Replace the food and treats daily. Once your cat is going into the carrier willingly, you can try putting the carrier back together, and let him get used to entering the full carrier. Then, encourage him to enter a carrier, close the door and carry him on a lap of the house. Gradually work your way up to taking short rides in the car, always starting by encouraging, not shoving, your cat into the carrier. Always give abundant encouragement with treats, calm words and snuggles afterwards (and during the process).
Another thing that you can do to help make the carrier less stressful is to spray Feliway onto a blanket you place inside to make your cat comfortable about 15 minutes prior to encouraging your cat into the carrier for travel. You can also cover the carrier with another blanket to help block scary sights and smells as you travel to the hospital. Cats are very fond of the philosophy “what I can’t see doesn’t exist!”
Grab the Gabapentin
Gabapentin generally calms but does not fully sedate cats
Another tool that you can use to help your anxious cat de-stress is a medication called gabapentin. This medication is used in human medicine for neuropathic pain, and is also an anti-seizure medication. It is also an excellent, gentle, and safe sedative for cats. A nice bonus is that gabapentin is a flavorless powder inside a capsule, which can be opened and mixed into some canned food 1-2 hours prior to the appointment and most cats will just eat it right up along with the food. For most cats, 100mg prior to the appointment is all they need, while others only need 50mg. Some cats benefit from a dose the night before the appointment in addition to the dose prior to the appointment. Side effects are mild, including excess salivation and sedation, and these will wear off in 6-8 hours after the dose of medication. For some people, gabapentin is also a nice solution for those cats that will not allow nail trims or grooming at home!
We want to emphasize that gabapentin is not just for cats that show their teeth and claws at the hospital – cats that are anxious or vocal in the car, those that urinate or defecate in their carrier, or scratch their face and tear their nails on the carrier doors, trying to escape, even cats that lead you on a merry chase around the house when they sense it is time to go to the vet – any cat could benefit from this anti-anxiety medication. They may still not be happy about coming, and are probably never going to feel like our office is their favorite place, but the whole ordeal will be less traumatic – both for them and for you!
Deliver Delicious Delicacies
You may want to bring your cat with a good appetite! Not only will that help if your cat gets car sick (motion sickness), but it’ll allow us to shower your cat with his or her favorite treats during the veterinary visit (as long as it’s not medically contraindicated - occasionally some tests do require fasting). Personally, we find that Friskies Party Mix, canned tuna and Fancy Feast are a hit in the veterinary clinic. We have recently had some success with INABA Churu grain-free lickable cat treats, as well, which is a meat flavored puree in a tube (kind of like kitty GoGurt). Just in case, we welcome you to bring your favorite snacks too!
If you have questions or concerns about the level of stress your cat experiences before, during or after his or her visit, don't hesitate to call our office at 248-666-5287 and ask us how you can help make things easier for both you and your cat so that they can get the crucial health care they need.
Case Report: Cessna - His tail's not all it's cracked up to be... - 07/10/2017
This handsome 8 year old came to see us for the first time in May, this year, with a particular tale to tell. His owners had found him on April 18th, with an injured tail and a trail of blood through the house, leading back to their daughter’s bedroom and under her bed, where he loved to sleep. His owners had no idea what could have happened to his tail.
Cessna's damaged tail bone
They rushed him to a veterinary hospital on emergency basis and they repaired the injury by amputating the injured tip of his tail. About a month later, he returned to the hospital, having traumatized it again. He had been wearing an Elizabethan collar all the time and still managed to injure himself.In addition, he was hiding, no longer social and good natured. It was recommended that the rest of his tail be amputated. Cessna’s family was uncertain that was what they wanted to do, so they brought him to Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital for a second opinion.
On May 24th, there was no sign of infection, and the tail tip seemed to be healing well, so we re-bandaged it and attempted to manage his apparent chronic pain with a prescription for Tramadol. At this visit (and previously, at the other veterinary hospital), Cessna was notably quite grumpy and intolerant of much handling.
Cessna's new, short tail
Cessna’s hind end was very sensitive and his owners were not able to look at his tail at home, and was also very difficult to medicate. On May 30th he managed to remove his bandage and get at his tail, again. On June 16th, Cessna’s family found a tick on him and wanted to have us look at him. He had been doing well on the Tramadol, but still seemed bothered by his tail. At least, however, he was not attacking it anymore. On the ride into the hospital, he started attacking his tail again, and urinated and defecated on himself. His family was distraught because they felt that he was miserable and could not live with this issue. They wondered if he needed his entire tail amputated. We took x-rays of the tip of his tail, and it appeared that due to his attacks, he had either exposed a sliver of bone, or some nerve tissue or tendons. At this time, his owners opted to pursue another tail amputation, and another 2 inches of tail needed to be removed. The concern about amputating completely was that if the entire tail was removed and he was still painful, he might start attacking his hindquarters and cause irreparable damage to himself. We applied a pain patch, gave him a mild sedative, an epidural, and a cocktail of other pain medications. He recovered from surgery well, and we sent him home on phenobarbital for pain control, sedation, and suppression of hyperesthesia-like symptoms.
Abnormal bone-like material in one of the tail joints
He went home again, but went into hiding. He started attacking his tail again on the 18th. His appetite decreased and started trying to bite his mom when she medicated him. He hid under the bed and defecated on himself when his family members tried to get him out from under the bed.
Cessna was a little embarrassed by his Thundershirt, at first...
His family was beginning to lose hope. Cessna was miserable, and they wondered if it wouldn’t be kinder to euthanize him. He was no longer the loving cat they had known, and he seemed to be in constant pain and distress for no known reason. We examined his tail again and reviewed the x-rays from the previous hosptal and discovered an abnormal joint much closer to the base of the tail that did not flex as nicely as the rest. We x-rayed the area and discovered a very small round mineralized object located in the joint space between two tail vertebrae. This is likely abnormal bony growth due to arthritis. Because it is located between two vertebrae, it likely sends shooting pain down the length of the spine whenever he moves his tail. Since the pain was radiating down the length of the tail, Cessna was attacking the part of his tail that he could easily reach, and not the area that was causing the pain.
We amputated the tail behind the affected joint, leaving about 3-4 inches of tail for him to wave, and crossed our fingers. He received another pain patch, a local nerve block and was started on a medication regimen of gabapentin for neuropathic pain, phenobarbital again, and Onsior for inflammation. In addition, Cessna started wearing a Thundershirt. He stayed with us at the hospital for 18 days as we balanced his pain medications – little enough that he could walk around, eat, and use the litterbox, but enough that he would ignore his tail. Over the time that he was here, he grew continually more affectionate and well-mannered. He began asking for attention, rather than hiding. He was allowed some exercise time to sit in the office with the doctors while they worked on paperwork, and he sat on the cat tree with Mr. A.
Cessna became more outgoing after a while
At first, the Thundershirt was hard for him, because he wanted to curl up in a ball and not move with it on, but by the time he was discharged, he was jumping up into laps for cuddle time. Our entire staff enjoyed his antics as he became more adventurous and learned how to steal tuna fish from Dr. Demos, or snuck through the door to visit the receptionists. On July 6 th, we took his sutures out and for the rest of the morning, he was angry at his tail again, so we gave him an injection of Simbadol, which is a long-acting pain medication. We suspect that his tail was a little painful again, because we meddled with the tail and scrubbed it to clean the incision area.
On July 7, he went home to his family, and the purrs that rumbled out of his chest were so loud they could be heard across the room! We are hoping that he continues to improve over the next few weeks so that we can stop his medications and continue with just the Thundershirt. We’ll have him wear the Thundershirt for another couple weeks after that before we have his family try to take it off. At that time, we hope that his life can get back to normal – his long tale cut short for good reason!
Environmental enrichment (tuna in a cup) becomes Cessna's preferred method of keeping his tail safe
Case Report: Tangled Newborn Kittens - 04/21/2017
Being a veterinarian can be very humbling, sometimes, because no matter how long a veterinarian practices, there is still the likelihood that each day, they may see something they have never seen before. Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital has been around for 25 years, and Dr. Bailey has been practicing even longer than that, and he observed, "In all my years of practice, I have never seen anything like this before!"
Dr. Brooks was presented with 5 kittens that were two days old, born to a feral mother that had been trapped. The foster owner had not been able to access the kittens well, because the mother cat would not let her near them, and she did not want to disturb the litter because all the kittens seemed to be nursing well and appeared active and content. That morning, the mother cat had moved away from the kittens and it became apparent that something was wrong. One of the kittens was nursing on the mother cat, but the other 5 kittens were together in a pile across the cage, struggling and crying. When she reached into the cage to pick up one of the kittens to check on it, she realized that it somehow seemed to be stuck to the other 5 kittens!
Desperately, the foster owner called veterinary hospital after veterinary hospital, looking for help. Time after time, she was told that there was nothing the hospital could offer, or that they didn't work with neonatal kittens. Finally, when she called Exclusively Cats, we told her to rush the kittens in. When she arrived, Dr. Brooks discovered that the kittens were entangled in their umbilical cords. Often, young cats do not know enough to separate kittens from the placenta effectively, and this can cause complications. Sometimes, kittens may end up missing tails or legs because the mother cat is unaware of what she is doing, and in this case, because she only separated a couple of kittens, the rest became ensnared as they moved around. At first, they were happily nursing, but as time went on, they became even more tangled and eventually, the mother cat abandoned them across the cage, because she couldn't figure out what to do.
Immediately, all of our technicians started dropping what they were doing to come to the aid of the kittens. Some held small feet and tails out of the way of Dr. Brooks' work, while she attempted to disentangle them, others weighed, cleaned, fed and warmed the kittens as they were separated. Two of the kittens had hind limbs that were too badly injured to save, and two kittens had umbilical hernias, so Dr. Bailey also jumped in as we cleaned and prepped four of the kittens for emergency surgery. Two leg amputations and two abdominal surgeries later, all five kittens were warm, fed and snuggling in warmed blankets. They received antibiotics and tube feedings because they would not drink from a bottle and the mother had not allowed them to feed recently. At that age, too, kittens cannot urinate or defecate on their own - the mother must stimulate them to eliminate, and so all the kittens were "pottied" as well.
Once all the kittens were recovered, fed and warmed, we taught the foster mom how to tube feed them, if necessary and sent them home. We hoped that they could be re-introduced to the mother so that they could nurse. The prognosis for the tangled kittens is very grave, as there is a huge risk of infection in kittens so small, and with such daunting beginnings. Fortunately, as soon as they were put back with their mother, she accepted them and they started nursing! this is great news, since they will do better with their mother's milk than with kitten milk replacer.
Overnight, one of the kittens who had an abdominal hernia passed away. Two days later, the foster mom brought in the kittens to weigh them. One of the kittens was euthanized due to a septic infection in the leg that was amputated. All the other kittens gained weight, but the kitten that was not part of the entanglement outweighs the others by about 40 grams! Hopefully, with heavy doses of antibiotics and close observation and care, the rest of the kittens will survive this ordeal!
Meet our Holiday Kitties: Snickers and Skittles! - 12/12/2016
SNICKERS AND SKITTLES
Snickers (orange and white)-age 16.5, 10lbs & Skittles (white)- age 14.5, 13 lbs. Skittles has one green and one blue eye. Both are Russian Siberians They have been patients with Exclusively Cats since they were kittens.
Mommy adopted me (Snickers) first from a breeder and then I told her I was lonely so she got Skittles from a different breeder. She got us from a breeder because at the time the person she was living with was allergic, and we are considered hypo-allergenic because we have very low levels of the dander protein that many are allergic to, called FeL d 1.
We love to go outside in our tent and are good buddies. We like to play fight and even though I am smaller, I still beat up Skittles and mom has to break up our fights.
Me in my window
I'm the life of the party!
Hi! I am mommy’s little person.I sleep on her head every night We have a great bond as I have been with her for a long time.She says I am emotionally in tune with her and people: if someone is sick, I take care of them and I always know when mommy needs cheering up.I even greet everyone as they come in.As you can see I really love the Christmas tree.When the tree isn’t up I like to lounge in the window and get my sun on or sleep on the top of my cat post.When I occasionally feel like playing, I love the little mice that shake and the laser beam.I am a very social cat so I am always at the dinner table…usually I sit on the floor and hope food comes my way, but when one of the seats is open...I take it!I also like to drink my water out of a Dixie cup on the bathroom sink. It is always filled up as I am being monitored for kidney disease.I love to eat, and wet food is my favorite.I also am always looking for cat treats but Cool Whip and turkey are my favorites!The team at Exclusively Cats is great but I turn into a very bad boy at the vet.I think I have scratched everyone there. :( Mommy feels bad about it and now I have to be put under sedation for some procedures.
and always have to be in on the action.
I love the holidays!
My little brother (see what I did there? He is small in the photo!) showing off his three legs
Skittles' beautiful eyes
This is Skittles, he is my little brother.We are very different as he is always the nonsocial one and runs and hides when people come to visit.However, that mellow attitude makes him a good boy at the vet, unlike me.He loves the dry food more than wet which I think is crazy.He also loves the occasional small piece of cheesy puffs but doesn’t beg so that means more food for me!Skittles is on special dry food because about 10 years ago he got a urinary blockage but we caught it in time and now he is good.While I like to snuggle, he loves to be roughed up.It is not unusual for him to yell and run around the house for no reason. He also likes the laser and our new cat dancer toy.
In May of 2015 mom noticed a very small lump on his back leg. After visiting Dr. Bailey for a check-up, we found out the lump was a fibrosarcoma that maybe he got from being vaccinated. Mommy decided to have surgery performed, since amputation was the best option to try to rid him of the cancer.It’s almost 2 years and he is still cancer free.It’s funny but his personality has really changed since the surgery.We call him “thumper” because you can always here him coming. :)He is so much more outgoing and is out and around all the time now.He has a stool to help him get on the big bed that is one of his favorite places.He is also demanding and yells at mom and dad when he wants them to sit on the couch so he can come up and lay on them on the blanket.He has even become a snuggler in bed. I think he has become daddy’s boy. He isn’t any different to any of us as a tripod. No one wants to hear the word cancer, but if it is an option to amputate do it.Cats are so resilient and we couldn’t imagine not having these moments with him!
Skittles the snuggler
Happy Holidays from S&S!!!!
Esophagostomy tubes (E-tubes) and cats - 12/02/2016
There are a number of reasons that a veterinarian might recommend the placement of an esophagostomy tube or e-tube if your cat is ill. The most common reason to place a tube is due to poor appetite - whether from pancreatitis or cancer or other illness. Other reasons could be to give fluids and medication to a cat in renal (kidney) failure or in the case of an oral or facial injury that makes it difficult for the cat to eat. Many people are concerned about the idea of placing a tube in their cat's neck because they fear that it will bother the cat, or it may look strange, or it may be difficult to maintain, but in reality, most people find that their cats are not bothered, the tube is surprisingly easy to maintain, and it is not as strange to look at as they thought. We thought that we would share a couple of recent experiences with you, and we invite you to share your own experiences, if you have had a cat with a tube placed.
An esophagostomy tube is a tube that is placed in the side of a cat's neck and sutured into place. The opening to the tube is located behind one ear, and the other end is located near the spot where the esophagus meets the stomach. There is a cap on the end of the tube behind the cat's ear, and the cat wears a small cloth collar to help protect the tube site and prevent too much motion of the tube.
Ms. Poof -
Ms. Poof with her tube
We would like to share our experience with the feeding tube that we decided to use for our cat.
At age 15 she has develop kidney disease. After several weeks of trying different ways to maintain her weight and make sure she got enough fluids, Drs. Bailey and Demos spent a great deal of time helping us though several treatment plans
They offered the potential use of the feeding tube. It sounds much worse than it is! We decided to try it
The procedure was quick. Our cat is fairly fussy, but she has had no reaction. The little cloth collar doesn't bother her at all- and she would never tolerate a regular collar.
This has made caring for her so much easier. We can get her the necessary fluids and can also administer any necessary medications-we all know how stressful it is the get a cat to take a pill! She plays and eats and sleeps normally with the tube.
I would recommend giving serious consideration to using the tube if the doctors make the suggestion. The entire staff at Exclusively Cats are phenomenal.
They care for our cats as if they were their own.
I'd be happy to talk to anyone about our experience.
Peabody, our renal failure kitty -
Thanks for asking me to write about our experience with Peabody and using an e-tube while he was
Peabody snoozing with his buddy Lewis
in renal failure. Peabody was our second renal failure kitty. His sister, Kimba Girl, had it as well. Kimba lived to be 18, and she was on sub Q fluids for 18 months. She just kept going and going! Still, it was quite a commitment to give her the injections every day, more injections as time went on. She accepted them quite well.
Peabody and Lewis sharing a heated bed
We were given the option for an e-tube with Kimba, but we truly thought that once she was on fluids, it would only be a matter of months. We didn’t want to put her through the surgical procedure at 16. Since we had to give her injections for well over a year, we knew that, for Peabody, we would do the tube right off the bat, because he could be on fluids for quite a while.
Peabody enjoying the outdoors with his tube
I was, at first, surprised by how long the tube stuck out from his neck. I was concerned about his collar bothering the tube. He had to wear a little cloth sleeve to protect the tube incision site as well. For the most part, it didn’t seem to bother him and, while we did have a few challenges with the tube, I believe it was a good choice for Peabody overall.
Our cats do go outside in the yard a bit. This was the hardest adjustment, because Peabody could not eat grass once the tube was in. The grass-induced vomiting put him at risk of coughing up the tube. Still, he wanted to go out every day and enjoy the sun, roll in the dusty driveway, rub his face in the catnip, and eat grass. As a result, I spent plenty of time just following him around the yard monitoring him to ensure he didn’t eat any grass. Sometimes I stood in the sun, for 10, 20, 30, minutes, while he just nosed around, rolled, etc. I must admit it drove me nuts sometimes, but I’d love to do it one more time with him.
As luck would have it, he did vomit the tube up in our living room just a couple weeks after having it put in. It is something that happens. We just did not give him fluids that day, & got him back to the vet the next day, and the tube was replaced.
The incision site needs to be cleaned daily. This did not prove to problematic; I just did it before or after giving the fluids, while the cat was already next to me. I kept the supplies in a little bowl, and I did it on the sofa. Peabody did not like to be carried to the bathroom counter for such things.
We did run into an unusual problem about 9 months in. We noticed some sort of black stuff – possibly a mold – growing inside the tube. Very weird. Not sure how it ever got in there. We tried pushing a tiny syringe of coca cola thru it, but that did not work. I even bought some tiny pipe cleaners, dipped it in cola, and tried to scrub the tube interior, with no improvement. However, by doing that, I think I tugged a bit on the stitches attaching the tube to the neck, so we once again had to take him in and have that addressed. Since the tube had this mold, it had to be replaced – again – and it was stitched up again. We had no further problems with the tube. The good vets at E-Cats indicated they had never seen that before, so it’s unlikely you would run into that particular concern.
As far as giving the fluids, there are several advantages of using the tube. First, it is so much easier
Peabody's tube did not interfere with his favorite sport - extreme napping
than using bagged fluids, heating it up, filling syringes, and giving your cat several 2 oz injections. I just put warm tap water in a mug, filled a 2 oz syringe from the mug, and took the syringe and mug to the sofa. I would no sooner sit down and Peabody would hop up next to me, purring. He loved getting his water. He curled up and just purred loudly while I slowly pushed the water. I assume it felt warming, and filled his belly. He was always happy to have it. It was a very loving experience.
Another advantage of giving the fluids through a tube, is that it was easier for my husband to do participate as well. His eyesight is not the best, so filling the syringes quickly and making sure he was injecting the cat properly was difficult for him. That meant most of the work fell to me, and it was hard for him if I was out of town. With the tube, he could easily give Peabody the fluids and have some nice “sofa-time” with sweet Pea.
As Peabody occasionally got constipated, we needed to give him some Miralax every day. With Kimba, we added it to her food, and could never be sure if she ate it, or one of the other cats. With Peabody, we just stirred the Miralax into the cup of warm water, and it went in with his fluids. Easy peasy.
The little cotton collars do need to be laundered. Peabody’s tube stuck out quite a ways, and I was always concerned about it hurting if he got in a tussle with another cat, or while scratching. I sewed a little piece of elastic to the collar so that I could tuck the tube under that, and keep it “hugging” closer to his neck.
A loving memorial to a singular cat
We now have our 3rd renal failure kitty, Lewis. Lewis was recently put on fluids just for a few days, and he improved. Eventually we know we will have to make the choice again – do we give him daily injections or the tube? A major factor will be that Lewis likes to go outside much more than Peabody, and his favorite thing is eating grass. We will have to decide if we want the convenience and ease of the tube for ourselves, or to let him continue to enjoy the yard and eat grass. We’ll have to wait and see.