Tag: cats (page 2 of 9)

Stomatitis – Cat Mouths Gone Bad

stomatitis in a catImagine your mouth being so inflamed and painful that you couldn’t eat. Maybe it would hurt to talk. And maybe you’ll drool constantly. Doesn’t sound pleasant does it? Sadly, this does happen with cats from time to time and it can be a devastating problem most often referred to as stomatitis (though also called gingivo-stomatitis, ulcerative stomatitis, or lymphocytic-plasmacytic stomatitis).

How did kitty get here?

That’s the million dollar question because despite years of research, the exact cause is unknown. It is thought to have multiple contributing factors including bacteria, viruses, and a poor immune system. It’s impossible to predict if it will happen but it appears in adult cats and perhaps more often in purebred cats such as Persians or Siamese. Most cases are going to end up being chronic and progressive though some sudden onset or shorter term cases can be due to toxic burns. Continue reading

Cats, Strings, & Intestinal Things

cats and string

from kittenwhiskers.com

The country song goes “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…” and the same thing applies to cats playing with string.  Media is chock full of images of kittens playing with balls or yarn whether it be cartoons, advertisements, or the endless supply of cute videos on YouTube.  But behind all this cuteness lies a deadly risk if a cat eats string, thread, yarn, or dental floss.  These kitties can be fixed but it’s not easy.  This is Mira’s story…

Mira cats and string

Mira

Sometimes you see your cat eat the string and sometimes you don’t.  Often times the first thing you may notice is vomiting.  This was the case with Mira.  At just 2 years old, she’s still an intensely curious cat.  All cats may vomit from time to time – hairballs, catching a mouse, chewing on plants, but never just vomiting out of spite.  When Mira started vomiting multiple times over several hours, her family knew something wasn’t right and brought her in to see us.  The diagnosis was easily found as a string was seen wrapped over and under her tongue.

When a string gets trapped at this spot, the other end of it starts moving through the stomach and intestines.  Essentially what happens is the string begins to act like a saw cutting through the intestines as it pleats them like an accordion.  Palpating a cat’s abdomen like Mira’s you can feel the intestines bunched up and thickened.  At this point, we weren’t sure how long the string had been present.  What we were all sure of was that Mira needed help in the form of surgery.

Yet, surgery isn’t just a simple snap of the fingers.  Many factors need to be considered.  Due to her vomiting, Mira was dehydrated.  With the risk of the string cutting into the intestines, blood and protein gets lost through these injuries which can complicate healing as well as leaking intestinal contents contributing to infection.  And the biggest mystery, what will you do once you’re there actually seeing the abdominal contents.  Mira’s family elected to go ahead and get her fixed up.

cats and string

Mira’s plicated intestines

Once we had her on some IV fluids and got her a bit better stabilized, I took her into surgery and investigated the damage.  In total, 7 perforations were noted and I discovered the other end of the string was in the colon.  Effectively, it was acting like a drawstring on pair of sweatpants pulling on her intestines at both ends.  Due to the number of perforations and their locations, the best option was to remove a large section of intestine and reattach the good ends.  After releasing the ends of the string through separate incisions in the stomach and end of the small intestine, I removed 32cm of the small intestine and reattached the ends before rinsing her abdomen and closing her up to recover her.

Over the next couple of days, we monitored Mira in the hospital.  Things weren’t going as we had hoped.  She wasn’t eating, kept spiking fevers, and seemed generally quieter than expected.  She only would eat tiny amounts when her family visited.  On the third day post-op, we checked some blood as she still wasn’t doing as we expected and noted several changes in the blood cell count and protein levels that concerned us and raised the suspicion that something had broken down inside.  The results were worse than before the initial surgery.  Despite all the precautions and steps we had taken to help Mira, something was leaking.

After some discussion, her family elected to have us attempt a second surgery as a means of fully discovering the extent of the problems and to fix what we could.  As soon as I got back into her abdomen, I had all the explanation we needed.  Her anastomosis site (the reattached portion) had broken down and a small leak was seen near it.  Given the amount of damage that was found and the previously removed section of intestine, I felt it best to call her family immediately and give them an update.  Assessing the extent of everything internally, I let them know her prognosis was very guarded to poor even with attempting a second repair and advised them that euthanasia was not an unreasonable option.  Her family conferred for a moment and told me to do my best to save her.  Back in surgery, I removed as little intestine as possible that was no longer viable and reattached the new ends.  After a very thorough rinsing of the abdomen and closing her back up, we all hoped for the best.

blood donor cat

Pioneer, the blood donor

Great news the next morning!  Her temperature was normal and she greeted us with alertness and purring unlike any other morning before.  A recheck of her blood now showed dangerously low levels of red blood cells and protein.  Mira needed a transfusion to give her the best chances for survival.  Luckily, one of our staff members volunteered to have her cat donate.  Mira received the much needed blood and was on the complete road to recovery.  By the next day, she was feeling spunky, her blood values had improved, and she was eating everything we gave her.  Mira was going home.

cats and string

Mira getting her transfusion

I like to think of Mira as a little “Mira-cle in May.”  Not all cats get this outcome.  It took the right combination of family commitment, veterinary team care, and a bit of luck.  The important message here is that when your pet seems sick, it’s best to not wait to see if it will pass — at a minimum, please talk with your veterinarian.  Waiting too long could make things worse.

Disclaimer: Blog posts may contain some opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers. Mira’s story is published with permission from her owners and some non-essential details have been omitted for brevity.

Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram @drryanllera , Facebook , or  Twitter for more pet info and interesting daily happenings!

Adding a New Pet – 5 Things You Should Know

Adding a New Pet to the Home

Something funny happened last week. In talking with a client after finishing her pet’s exam, we got to talking about my family of pets…currently numbered at 2 dogs, 3 cats, 2 horses, and 1 rat. She asked if we were starting a farm and if we were planning on adding another pet to the house. She was also thinking about starting a farm and had a bunch of questions on her mind such as “Are slow feeders bad for horses’ teeth?” and if there were any unexpected costs involved in starting off. I’m just waiting for her to say she wants an aviary and something like a cape parrot (super-interesting bird, you can find out more about them at https://petvblog.com/cape-parrot/) outside. In the end, I told her I’m not adding another pet to the house, but boy was I wrong!

That night on my deck, I saw the domestic rabbit that had been loose in our yard or the neighbor’s for the past 2 weeks. We suspected this bunny had gotten loose or dumped and had been trying to catch it. Long story short, we caught this scared rabbit and took her (yes, we checked!) into our home for the night. We had checked with our neighbors and the Kingston Community Lost Pets forum but nobody has yet to claim her as their own. Even after the first hour of her being in my home, my wife was convinced that we should add her to our family.

adding a new petHenrietta is the third animal to join our family in 7 months after Sherman the rat and Rudy, our younger dog. Not surprisingly, adding all these pets wasn’t an easy transition for the people or the pets. There are pitfalls that can occur and other aspects that need to be considered when deciding to bring a new pet into the family.

How will the pets get along (if there are others)?

I think this is probably a larger issue for the already established residents in the home. They have a routine and a new pet might mess that up. Cats & dogs may become destructive eating furniture, soiling in the house, or act out of sorts (changes in appetite, less social behavior). When we adopted Rudy, we had some concerns over whether or not Rudy was going to eat our cat Louie. As he was a rescue dog, we didn’t know how he would be with cats and those kitties are fast!! So naturally, Rudy took chase. Fortunately, we did not experience any other issues. I suggest a slow introduction of the pets. New cats can be kept in the bathroom for a few days to allow scents to be traded but it’s also good to monitor for any signs of infectious disease. New dogs can be kept on leash and sit with you. It’s helpful to have one person per dog for introductions so that fights can be avoided. For dogs, consider meeting at a neutral site so that you can minimize territorial issues. It’s best to not leave pets alone with the new pet as you won’t be able to monitor or control any scuffles that take place.

adding a new pet

True meets Floyd

How will your new pet fit in to the routine?

Even if your pet is the first pet at home, there are some challenges that can be faced; maybe even more so if they are older or from a rescue situation. Younger pets may experience some separation anxiety when you leave home. Others will find their way into your bed instead of their own. Rescue pets may have some habits that you find endearing but others that are frustrating to home life. Crate training is highly recommended to give your new pet a safe place to stay when you’re not home and a place of their own. This ensures they have a space where they can have time away from the other pets. It’s important to spend time with a new pet in order to bond but it’s just as important to let them have some alone time to establish independence. This is key time to re-bond with your other pets so they do not feel forgotten. Feeding time can be another issue. Are your current pet(s) meal fed or free fed? Free feeding can not only lead to obesity but in an environment with multiple pets can lead to potential fights or food aggression if they feel resources are limited. For this reason (and many others), I always recommend meal feeding in separate locations.

Who is caring for the new pet?

cat litter memeIf you live on your own, this is a no-brainer. It’s when you have a family involved that things get more complicated. Are your kids begging for a pet? But are they truly old enough and are they going to be the ones responsible for walking or cleaning the litterbox? Setting guidelines before you add a new pet is important as no matter what happens, that animal is dependent on others for it’s care. Deciding on socialization or training classes is also important to help avoid unwanted behaviors. Back to the feeding point; let’s make sure that multiple people aren’t feeding pets and over doing it…your pets most likely won’t admit they’ve already had dinner!

Are costs being considered?

Admit it…aside from giving a cute animal a loving home, you want to spoil them. Aside from the typical care costs of food, collar, or litterbox, there are toys, beds, treats, etc. Another aspect when considering care is preparing for veterinary costs. For kittens & puppies, this can include their initial vaccine series and spaying/neutering. For senior pets, this might involve semi-annual exams, wellness blood tests, or special needs medications. It’s also important to prepare for emergencies. Animals eat strange things. Sometimes they fight with each other and sometimes injuries happen during playtime. Nobody wants accidents to happen but they do. I implore you, be ready to care for your pets and if this will be immensely difficult financially then consider waiting until the time is better.

What about non-traditional pets?

Guida, 24 years old and retired in Florida

Guida, 24 years old

For some people, cats and dogs just don’t do it. Many other types of animals have become pets over the years including snakes, various lizards, birds, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, and rats to name a few. All of these animals are quite different not just in appearance but also in terms of body systems and the care required to keep them healthy. Many of these exotic pets who present to the veterinary clinic have problems that can be avoided with proper husbandry or care. Too often, these pets are bought or adopted without proper research beforehand with regards to diet, housing, and environmental enrichment. Sometimes you can have the chance to go on a course, for example, for poultry keeping it is recommended. They tell you what to feed the birds, what kinds of chicken coop, chicken coop run, or nest boxes to get, and dangers of illness like lice and mites etc. This means you will know exactly how to care for them and know what you are getting yourself into, which should be for every pet, exotic or not. Even a small brood of chickens can give you the same love and satisfaction as your usual dog or cat!

It’s a big commitment to expand your family. Take some time to prepare beforehand and it can make life that much better for everyone involved. Are you growing your pet family soon? Do you have anything to add from past experience? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: All blog posts may contain opinions which do not reflect those of my current or any former employers.

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