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Five Freedoms: 2. Freedom from Discomfort

Friday, January 10th, 2020

Continuing on the topic of the five freedoms that are necessary for our cats to be healthy and happy, the second freedom is freedom from discomfort. This means that we need to provide an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

Indoor cats are sheltered from many outside dangers that could cause discomfort. However, being indoors does not mean that they are immune to discomfort. Indoor cats should have access to soft bedding where they can rest easily. They should also be in a low stress environment. This means controlling the temperature within the house so that the cat does not become too hot or cold. Additionally, we need to provide noise control – many cats are scared by loud or random noises, so we should minimize these as much as possible. Cats also need access to natural light. Your own cat probably loves to look outside the window and watch the birds and other animals. They also probably enjoy lounging in the sun. We need to provide accessible windows and areas for sun-bathing.

Outdoor cats are exposed to many more threats that can cause discomfort. Nevertheless, there are things we can do to help minimize discomfort. Providing shelter, such as an enclosed crate or box, can shelter outdoor cats from the environment. We also need to ensure that their access to food and water is free and easy; if the food is near a stressful trigger, like a loud air-conditioning unit, this could cause discomfort and scare the cat. While ice is not a common issue here in Scottsdale, heat is certainly something we struggle with in the summer. Providing shelter from this heat and making sure the water and food we provide is out of the sun is important for our outdoor kitties.

Sheltering our cats from discomfort and stressful situations is very important but not always something we actively think about. If you are sure to take these factors into consideration, you will be helping your cat to live a healthy and happy life.

 

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Five Freedoms: 1. Freedom from thirst

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

Part 2: Freedom from Thirst

We have talked in previous blogs about the Five Freedoms for our pets.  These freedoms highlight what our cats truly need to be happy and healthy.  Freedom from hunger and thirst is the first one.

If you have a dog, you probably see them go to their water bowl multiple times each day to drink, often after eating or exercise. However, most cats are not big drinkers. In the wild, they get most of their moisture from the food they eat. This is another reason why feeding primarily canned food is very helpful for kitties.

Cats also prefer not to have their water source right next to their food. Provide fresh clean water daily in an easily accessible bowl that is wide enough so that their whiskers don’t touch the sides. Some cats dislike stagnant water and prefer to drink from running water. If this is the case, purchase a water fountain for them or allow them to drink out of the faucet. This can encourage water intake in our already finicky cats. Offering multiple water dishes around the house can also be incredibly useful.

It also matters where you put the food and water dishes in your house. Although the easiest place is likely right next to the fridge, this may be a stressful location for your cat, particularly if there is more than one cats or lots of commotion around the food and water dishes.

Pay attention to your cat when they approach their water and food dishes. If they walk up casually or eagerly, tails raised, and dig right in, they are probably happy where they eat. If they approach slowly or warily with ears down and looking about or eat a little then dart off, they are stressed.  This can affect their digestion and overall health. Cats may enjoy eating together if they are very bonded.  Oftentimes cats prefer to eat separately, either in different rooms or around a corner. Cats that openly hiss at each other or lay back their ears when near each other should have alone time somewhere the other cat cannot bother them to eat and use the litter box.

If you provide high quality cat food, abundant attractive water, and a good environment to enjoy these, you will be helping your feline family to live happy and healthy lives.

Five Freedoms: 1. Freedom from hunger or thirst

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

We all know the story of the cat who gets fed by one person in the household,
and then goes and meows at another person in the house to be fed again. Many
cats love to eat, but good nutrition is more than just putting down food and water
when your cat begs. We must provide the proper quality as well as quantity of
foods in addition to ready access to water. Most cats could get by for years with
generic kibble poured into a bowl with a connected water dish refilled each day.
However, we can provide much better options to keep our feline family healthy
and happy.

Part 1: freedom from hunger
Choosing a food for your cat is increasingly becoming a very difficult part of being
a cat parent. There is an overwhelming amount of marketing and advertising that
can often be misleading or not the full truth. This can make it confusing to choose
what food to buy. The best foods are ones that have been tested by being fed to
cats and then testing the health of those cats. Many foods are formulated to
meet the minimum standards but they have not been tested on actual cats to see
how well the nutrients within the food are absorbed and used by the body. At our
clinic, we sell Royal Canin, Hills and Purina diets because these companies
spend millions of dollars each year on research for their diets, they have
veterinary nutritionists on staff, and they also follow WSAVA (World Small Animal
Veterinary Association) guidelines. The types of ingredients are important, but
the nutrients they provide are even more important. WSAVA has great questions
to ask about the food you are feeding you cat at
https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/Arpita-and-Emma-editorial/Selecting-the-
Best-Food-for-your-Pet.pdf

Every cat can digest and react to food differently so talk to your veterinarian
about if the diet you are feeding is best for your cat. Typically, it is best to feed
mainly canned food with a small amount of a dental kibble or chews. Cats are
carnivores and need more protein and fats and less carbohydrates. Canned food
is best at providing this. It also provides water to your cat to help maintain good
hydration and good kidney and bladder health. Cats in the wild don’t tend to
drink much water but get much of their moisture from the prey that they eat. Cats
do need some food or treats that they really have to chew to exercise and clean
their teeth.

Studies have shown that cats are typically grazers and can eat up to twenty-two
small meals per day! However, many of our indoor cats aren’t exercised enough,
and allowing them to eat however much they want whenever they want can
greatly contribute to the problem of feline obesity. Try different methods of
feeding and talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your cat given their
preferences. Many of our clients do meal feedings, where they feed a certain
amount of calories two to three times daily.

One great way to relieve stress for indoor cats and provide mental and physical stimulation is to feed them with food puzzles. Go to http://www.foodpuzzlesforcats.comor google to find lots of good options.  There can be a small learning curb with these, but most cats figure them out
quickly. Cats in the wild spend many hours hunting and catching prey and food
puzzles help to bring a little of that back into their lives.

Five Freedoms for our Pets

Friday, October 18th, 2019

We all want the best for our pets. We want to believe that we provide a great home for them and everything they could need to be happy and healthy. For the most part, we all do this. Cats though are very complicated creatures and don’t usually show when they are sick or in pain. They are also stressed very easily, sometimes by living situations that we are not aware are stressing them.

To ensure all pets are provided with the best care, many animal welfare and veterinary organizations are trying to raise awareness of the Five Freedoms. These were first formulated by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council to use in the care of livestock. They certainly apply to pets of all kinds and are a good guide to what our pets need.

Five Freedoms:

  • Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
  • Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  • Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind
  • Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

Look for future blog posts that will address how you can provide the Five Freedoms for your feline family.

Tackling the Teeth: The Importance of Feline Dental Health Part 2

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

by Dr. Rachel Luoma

Dental home care is also an incredibly important component of your cat’s dental health. Dental cleanings are one part, but without dental home care, your cat will likely need more frequent dental cleanings. There are many forms of home care that you can provide.

  • Daily tooth brushing is the number one way to slow the progression of dental disease. Using a toothbrush or dental wipe provides mechanical removal of this plaque so that it cannot harden into tartar. It is best if you can brush your cat’s teeth daily as we know that plaque forms within twenty-four hours.
  • Dental rinses are also options for slowing progression of dental disease. Dental rinses are formulated to to reduce plaque and tartar formation.
  • Dental chews and dental diets are a more passive way of reducing dental disease in your cat. Chews and diets are formulated so that the cat actually chews the kibble or treat, providing mechanical removal of the plaque. The thing here is that your cat actually has to chew the treat or kibble! If they swallow the piece whole, unfortunately this will not help your cat’s dental health.

In addition to the local disease and pain that dental disease can cause, it also has systemic effects. Dental disease has been shown to complicate kidney and liver disease and is linked to heart disease.  It can also increase insulin resistance which contributes to diabetes and increase inflammation throughout the body. Taking care of your cat’s teeth not only helps their dental health but also can help many other disease processes they have present.

 

In summary, dental disease is incredibly common in cats with seventy percent having some sort of dental disease by age two. Taking care of your cat’s teeth at home through brushing, chews, treats, and rinses is the first step in slowing the progression of dental disease. However, once gingivitis develops, a dental cleaning under anesthesia is necessary to get your cat’s mouth back in good health. Talk to your veterinarian about what is the best course for your feline family.  By taking care of your cat’s dental health, you can help keep your kitty healthy and happy!

Tackling the Teeth: The Importance of Feline Dental Health, Part 1

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Have you ever actually looked at your cat’s teeth? When they are yawning, you might glimpse their teeth but probably not get a great look. Believe it or not, dental disease is one of the most common diseases in cats. Sure, obesity and kidney disease are fairly common, but seventy percent of cats by age two have some form of dental disease. Even worse, there are often no outward clinical signs.

Like most disease processes, dental disease is progressive. It starts with plaque formation. Plaque is a biofilm, which is an accumulation of bacteria on a surface. After a brushing or dental cleaning, plaque forms within twenty-four hours! If you don’t get that plaque off the teeth right away, three days later tartar begins to form. If that tartar is left on the teeth, gingivitis starts to develop within three weeks. Gingivitis is a common type of periodontal disease (infection of the gums) where there is inflammation of the gums. Bleeding of the gums with brushing or chewing can be the first sign of gingivitis.  Without treatment, gingivitis quickly progresses to visible redness of the gums. This quick progression of dental disease is good to know because if your cat has a dental cleaning and you aren’t doing anything for the teeth at home, a month later your cat could already have gingivitis!

Your veterinarian can help with dental health

Dental cleanings under general anesthesia are important for your cat for multiple reasons.

  • During a dental cleaning, we are able to take dental radiographs which allow us to visualize the portion of the tooth below the gumline (the root). This is important because one-half to two-thirds of the tooth is below the gum! Without dental radiographs, we are not able to assess the health of the root. If the root is losing its attachments to the surrounding bone, developing an abscess, dead, or being resorbed into the surrounding bone, the tooth will need to be treated via extraction or amputation of the crown (part of the tooth above the gum) depending on the disease present.
  • There is a small pocket between the gum and the tooth that can accumulate tartar and plaque. This subgingival plaque must be cleaned off the tooth, and this can only be done under general anesthesia. If periodontal disease has progressed, this pocket can grow in size, indicating that the tooth may need to be extracted.
  • Your cat doesn’t understand why we are cleaning her teeth and the importance of it. Non-anesthetic dental cleanings can be incredibly stressful for your cat, not to mention the fact that dental radiographs and subgingival plaque cleanings cannot be performed. Anesthesia-free dentistry is considered a welfare issue by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and is not recommended.
  • After extracting any necessary teeth, cleaning off all tartar and plaque, and noting any abnormalities that need to be treated, your cat’s teeth are then polished thoroughly to help smooth the tooth surface and slow the progression of plaque buildup.

Dental cleanings under anesthesia are a necessary part of your cat’s veterinary treatment. Without adequate home care (to be discussed in part two), many owners can expect their cats to need dental cleanings every year or two. Even if your cat only has mild tartar buildup present or no tartar but visible gingivitis, dental cleanings under anesthesia are usually necessary to help get the gums and teeth back into good health before the disease progresses to a later stage where the roots can become affected and need treatment.

For more information:  https://www.scottsdalecatclinic.com/veterinary-services/dental-care/

by Dr. Rachel Luoma

How Much is Too Much? Controlling Feline Obesity

Friday, August 30th, 2019

by Dr. Rachel Luoma

When was the last time you actually measured out your cat’s food? No, not using a coffee scoop, but using an actual measuring cup. Are you feeding your cat the right amount?

Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States in both humans and animals. In 2018, it was estimated that approximately 60% of cats were either overweight or obese (1). This number has increased over the past few years from 58% in 2014 to 59% in 2016, and now 60%. If we’re recognizing that obesity is an issue, why aren’t these numbers going down?

Part of the problem is in our perceptions. While some owners are keenly aware of what their animal’s body condition should look like and what they should weigh, most don’t realize what a truly overweight animal looks like. When veterinarians identify an animal as being overweight or obese, many owners are shocked to find out that what they thought was normal is actually too much.

 

How you can help your cat.
One of the first steps in combating feline obesity is learning about proper weight and body condition. There are a few different body condition scoring (BCS) rubrics, but most rely on a 1-9 scale. 1 is far too thin while 9 is overweight. 5 is just right. At a BCS of 5, the cat should be well-portioned with the ribs being palpable with slight fat cover and a minimal abdominal fat pad.

Next, determine how much your cat is actually eating! Measure out their food in an actual measuring cup. Now look at the food bag to see how many calories are in a cup. Chances are, you’ve been overfeeding your cat. Restricting your cat’s calorie intake to an appropriate amount is the next step in getting them to lose weight. Your veterinarian should be able to help you determine the appropriate amount.

What to feed.
Changing the diet can also help your kitty lose weight. Many dry foods are very calorie-dense, meaning that your cat only has to eat a small number of kibble before filling up on their total daily calories. Switching to a low calorie food or a food designed for weight loss is ideal. Additionally, introducing canned food to your cat’s diet is incredibly beneficial. Canned food is typically not as calorie-dense as dry food, meaning your cat has to eat more before filling up on calories. Canned food is also typically high in protein and low in carbohydrates, a great combination for kitties. Because of canned food’s high moisture content, you’ll be helping to keep your cat hydrated as they often don’t drink as much water as they should.

If your cat can’t switch to a weight loss diet or refuses to eat wet food, in addition to reducing calories, there are additional options for helping them to lose weight. Encourage exercise as much as possible. Use cat toys such as a laser pointer or a Cat Dancer to get them to run and play. Introduce a cat tree for them to climb on and survey their territory. This also stimulates mental health. Using puzzle feeders, such as Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder or Lickimats can encourage hunting and slow down eating, allowing your cat to slowly fill up on calories instead of chowing down.

Ultimately, you are the most important part of helping your cat to lose weight. Choosing an appropriate diet, limiting the number of calories, and encouraging play and mental stimulation are necessary for your cat’s weight loss journey. Losing weight has many other benefits as well.
Obesity is linked to many different conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, chronic inflammation, osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure. By getting your kitty lean and fit, you’ll be improving their long-term health so that you can enjoy many years with your special kitty.

Visit our website for more information at https://www.scottsdalecatclinic.com/veterinary-services/wellness-care/

Dealing with multiple medical problems in your cat

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Any time a member of your feline family has a medical problem it can be scary and confusing. Hopefully though, your veterinarian can diagnose the problem and start treatment to make your cat feel better. Many times however, our patients have more than one problem that may or may not be related to each other. It is not uncommon to see a 14-year-old patient with hyperthyroidism, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, dental disease and arthritis, all causing some amount of suffering in the cat. Even younger patients can have multiple problems. If a patient has not been examined in a few years, the veterinarian may be diagnosing all of these problems at one time. Because cats are so good at hiding their problems, you may not even be aware that each problem has developed. Indeed, it may be the combination of problems that finally caused the cat to appear obviously unwell.

Addressing multiple medical problems frequently means using a number of tools to help us figure out what is going on with your cat. Some medical problems can be seen on exam but usually, in order to be fully diagnosed and understood, some tests or procedures will be needed. Typically the first step is a blood and urine panel that can evaluate for problems with organs, diabetes, immune system disorders, and anemia. In many cases however , we will use more specialized blood tests to accurately explain a problem. In addition to these specific blood and urine tests imaging such as x-rays and ultrasound may be needed. Radiographs and ultrasound can be vital to looking into the body to find the underlying cause of medical problems. Assessing all of these multiple results together helps your veterinarian to have a more complete picture and make better treatment recommendations. For example, in dental disease the true severity of the problem is rarely diagnosed completely until the mouth is examined under anesthesia and radiographs are taken.

Hershey receiving fluids under the skin to rehydrate him.

Once treatment is started, many of these tests need to be repeated on a regular basis to evaluate how well the treatment is working and to assess for any side effects from the treatments and on going changes. This may need to be done monthly at first or every 4-6 months if the cat’s condition is stable. For example, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can greatly affect the cat’s kidneys and heart. If the thyroid medication dose is too high, the thyroid level can become too low, which worsens kidney disease. Treating hyperthyroidism can improve heart function so heart medications may need to be altered. If the blood tests are not repeated, there is no way to know if the medication dose is helping enough or is having any adverse effects. Many medications cause potent reactions in the body. Regular monitoring insures that those medications are doing what they are supposed to rather than actually doing harm.

It can be overwhelming for the client to understand each problem and the needed diagnostic tests and treatments. Sometimes, we need to take a one-step-at-a-time approach to address all of the problems. Creating a chart for medications and notes on how the cat is doing each day has helped many of our clients. Clients should also feel comfortable asking whatever questions they have, calling or emailing the clinic, even for what may seem minor concerns. Changes in appetite, activity level, urine or stool quality and any vomiting should be reported to your veterinarian, especially if these occur after a change in medications.

Our goal is to give our patients good quality of life free of pain and distress for as long as possible. By addressing all of their problems and monitoring their treatment, we can work with our clients to achieve this.

For more information, please visit our website page about testing at https://www.scottsdalecatclinic.com/veterinary-services/diagnostic-services/ or call and schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians.

Hidden dental disease causes pain in your cat

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Dental disease affects all cats at some point in their lives. For at least half of cats, this includes painful resorptive lesions in one or more teeth. With these lesions, the enamel of the tooth is eroded away exposing the pulp of the tooth. The pulp contains the nerve and blood supply. Depending on the size of the lesion, this can mean mild to severe pain for your cat. Unfortunately, many cat owners are not aware that this is happening with their cat.

Few cats with these lesions stop eating or cry in pain. But there can be some subtle signs. Some owners do notice their cat eating more on one side of their mouth or preferring a different type of food. Some cats will prefer canned because it is easier to chew. Other cats prefer dry food because they can swallow it easily without chewing. Cats may exhibit behavioral changes such as not grooming well or exhibit a change in the interaction between cats in the house.

At some point many of the lesions can lead to the breaking of the crown of the tooth. Cats may show pain at this point because of the increase in severity of the pain. The pain may subside a little with time and the cat learns to deal with it and hide it again. But the cat is still most likely in considerable discomfort.

Unlike with human teeth, there is no way to fill these lesions like our dentists do with cavities. The best treatment for these lesions is extraction of the tooth to remove the source of pain. After removing the damaged tooth, the gum tissue is closed with sutures and heals well in a short period of time.  After the extractions, most cats become more active due to the relief of their pain. They eat well even if many or all the teeth must be extracted. Our clinic cat, Kristina, has had all of her teeth removed and most of our clients can attest to how well she loves her hard treats.

Below are some photos and radiographs showing how teeth that appear healthy and normal can have problems discovered on closer examination.

In the first photo below we see, on first inspection, what looks like normal, healthy teeth (Photo 1). However, this cat has severe resorptive lesions not easily visible in a reluctant cat. Cats, as you might imagine, are usually not completely cooperative when their owner or veterinarian tries to look inside their mouth. Yet with a closer examination when the cat is anesthetized, we can see a lesion on an upper tooth (note the red discoloration in Photo 2). A complete oral examination under anesthesia following a dental cleaning enables your veterinarian to find these painful lesions and treat them.

Photo 1.  The lip side of the premolar appears normal. (Click for close-up view)

 

 

Photo 2. Resorptive lesion on the tongue side of the upper third premolar is obvious during exam under anesthesia. (Click for close-up view)

Yet simple visual inspection will not show all problems in your cat’s teeth. To gain a complete understanding of your cat’s oral health, dental radiographs (x-rays) need to be taken on all cats undergoing a dental procedure to look for resorption of the roots of the teeth. Because the roots of the teeth are below the gum line, radiographs are the only way we can see the health of this part of the tooth. In this second cat, the entire root of the canine tooth (fang) was resorbing even though the crown of the tooth appeared normal to the eye (Photo 3). Under x-rays, however, we can see clearly that the root is almost completely resorbed (Photo 4). In Photo 4, the compromised fang is shadowy and barely visible. Compare this to a radiograph of a healthy fang (Photo 5), where the tooth is distinct and a solid white, showing us a solid root. The diseased tooth in Photos 3 and 4 would have eventually broken, resulting in severe pain for this cat. By performing oral surgery and removing the tooth during the dental procedure, he was saved from this outcome.

Photo 3. This canine tooth (fang) appears normal. (Click for close-up view)

Photo 4. Severe resorption of the root is obvious on radiographs. Note the barely visible outline of the tooth. (Click for close-up view)

Photo 5. Radiograph of normal canine tooth (fang) showing a solid white outline of the root.

Dental health represents a significant element in your cat’s overall health. Unhealthy, compromised teeth are not only painful (as any of us who have had a sore tooth can attest), but dental disease can also result in other, more widespread problems. Pain and discomfort can lead to poor nutrition and behavior problems, while bacteria from dental disease can lead to organ problems. These can be serious problems and not to be treated lightly. It is important to take care of  your cat’s teeth to keep them happy and active.

We are moving!

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

IMG_5653

Exciting News

Thanks to our wonderful clients, Scottsdale Cat Clinic has continued to grow, and we’ve finally pushed beyond the space in our current location. We are very pleased to announce that soon, we will be moving to a new location in Scottsdale. In March, we purchased a building and after much discussion with architects, staff and other experts we will soon start renovating the new Scottsdale Cat Clinic. In its former life, our building was a lawyer’s office, pleasant enough, but completely unsuited to be a veterinary clinic. This means we will completely remodel the interior, and we can create the perfect space for caring for all of our special patients.

We are excited to tell you about some of the new features you can expect at the new and improved Scottsdale Cat Clinic:

• More exam rooms to provide better service to you during appointments.
• More boarding space including a playroom for the cats.
• A separate dental suite to keep all of our patients’ pearly whites healthy.
• Our own parking lot!

Behind the scenes we will be mapping the layout to better separate the various tasks we perform. The new clinic will be quieter and calmer for your cats. We will also have improved labs, pharmacy and work-stations for all the staff.

Our new building is located at the northeast corner of Chaparral and Granite Reef. It will be closer to the 101 and easier to access for most of our clients. If you drive by, you may start to see some work there as we clean up the landscaping and paint the building. We plan on keeping you constantly updated with news and photos as we move along. Plan for a big party in the fall!