Celebrating Cats

This past week at PAH we extended National Cat day to celebrate cats for a whole week! As National Cat Day was this week we’ve spent some time as a team talking about and continuing to educate ourselves on how we can best help to keep cats healthy. Here are a few of the major health concerns our team talked about:

Vomiting:

Although for some cats vomiting is related to the occasional hairball, continued vomiting may be a sign of other more serious health problems. Vomiting can be caused by:

PAH loves all of our cat patients. This little cutie was boarding at PAH and received lots of TLC from our staff!

  • Intestinal blockage by string or other objects
  • Infections
  • Urinary tract disease
  • Or other internal health issues

If you notice that your cat is continuing to vomit, drooling, or panting call PAH immediately. The treatment for vomiting will depend on the cause, but will almost always involve a full medical examination to determine the root cause, and fluids to ensure that your kitty does not get dehydrated. Once the doctor determines the root cause treatment can be identified and our team can help your kitty recover.

Fleas

Regardless of whether your cat is an indoors-only or indoor-outdoor cat, they can acquire fleas. Fleas cause itching, which can in turn cause your cat to over groom and can result in hair loss and bald spots. At PAH we recommend that all healthy pets, including cats, take a monthly flea preventative to ensure that they do not suffer from these tiny parasites.

Intestinal parasites

For cats and dogs intestinal parasites are a common and unappealing reality. If you have ever had a pet with parasites you likely know why. Two of the most common symptoms of tapeworms, a kitty’s most common intestinal parasite, are vomiting and weight loss. In addition, and the far less appealing symptom are what appears to be moving grains of rice in their stool is quite common. These “grains” are actual tapeworms living in their stool. Tapeworms thankfully are easily treated through stool samples and medication.

Urinary tract diseases

Another common health problem we see that has multiple causes is Feline Urinary Tract Disease. Although the cause can be from several things the most common are being over eating or lacking in fitness. As cat-parents we rarely think about ensuring that they are in good shape, and unfortunately this can result in a very sick cat, pretty quickly. If your kitty is a bit round, be sure to watch for the following symptoms:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Peeing outside the litter box
  • Loss of appetite
  • Crying or moaning
  • Licking around their urinary area

If you notice any of these symptoms call or go to your doctor immediately! Urinary tract issues are one of the most serious illnesses a kitty can have and can be fatal in a relatively quick amount of time.

All four of these common health concerns are treatable or preventable with proper veterinary care. If you are new to owning a cat or want to brush up on your cat health awareness, be sure to check out the rest of our blog posts on cats. You can also come by PAH for your cats biannual wellness examination, bring your list of questions, and spend time with our staff learning how you can help your cat stay happy and healthy for years to come.

 

Hot Spots: Not as cool as they sound

Although the name “hot spot” sounds like a great new restaurant in Oceanside or perhaps the new nightclub in downtown San Diego, unfortunately a hot spot is actually quite painful and unpleasant. Just like the trendy new nightclub, a hot spot on your pet can seemingly appear out of nowhere.

What is a hot spot?

A hot spot, or moist eczema, is essentially a sore on your pet. They can range in size, shape, and location. The cause of hot spots can vary, but basically anything that irritates or opens the skin, leaving it exposed to bacteria, can start a hot spot.

The initial irritant can then be exacerbated by:

A common spot for hot spots, under the ear, this pup knows first hand how uncomfortable a hot spot can be. This pup’s parents acted fast and the pup is receiving care from the PAH doctors and staff.

  • Licking
  • Biting
  • Scratching
  • Rubbing against something sharp or further irritating

Once the hot spot is started, the hair around the area will work to trap moisture and allow the infection to worsen. Hot spots can be extremely painful to your pet and do require treatment to help alleviate.

 

Treatment of hot spots:

The level of treatment needed will also vary pet to pet and hot spot to hot spot. In general, your veterinarian will take the following steps to help your pet’s hot spot heal.

  1. Shave away the hair in the area. Removing the excess hair will help to lessen the moisture in the area, and help keep the infection from worsening
  2. Clean the wound and surrounding area. To help stop and prevent further infection, an antiseptic will be used.
  3. If the hotspot may have been associated with something itchy, such as a fleabite, your veterinarian will give your pet medications to help stop the itching and kill the fleas.
  4. Using a cone may be necessary to help keep your pet from itching, biting, or scratching at the area.
  5. Monitor the area, give the medications and ensure that it is not worsening. If at any point the wound appears to be growing or worsening, see a doctor immediately. Remember, a wound of any type or size is painful, even if your pet appears to act normally.

 

Hot spots are very painful and can worsen quickly. If you think your pet has developed a hot spot, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

The “Garfield” Zone

Earlier this week, one of our fabulous technicians, Daria, sent us this great comic about feline obesity. We knew right then what we should talk about in the week’s blog post: feline obesity!

Obesity in cats can be a bit tricky. There are a few common mantras we hear when it comes to a cat’s weight, “Our cat is big boned…” and “His tummy hangs a little bit, but he’s happy…” Although both seem like good reasons to let your cat be a bit chubby, that extra weight can take years off your cat’s life.

For cats just a pound or two extra can be the difference between healthy and unhealthy and with 50% of cats in America overweight it is important we start looking at where we are going wrong as pet parents.

The biggest cause of pet obesity is how and what we feed our cats. Cats are known to be as lazy creatures. They burn very few calories each day and just like humans the only way they lose weight is to burn more calories then they take in.

How to know if your cat is overweight:

Visual: While your cat is standing, look down at your cat from above, do they look like they swallowed a ball? If so, they are overweight!

Feel: You shouldn’t be able to see your cat’s ribs, but you should be able to feel them. If you cannot feel your cat’s ribs and/or backbone, they are over weight.

What your doctor may be noticing: There are several common illnesses that we see in cats that are overweight:

  • Liver issues
  • Diabetes
  • Constipation
  • And skin problems when they are too big to properly clean themselves

Helping your cat lose weight

How to properly feed your cat:

If you cat is overweight, the easiest way to help them lose weight is to restrict their food intake. For many families, this means they must stop free feeding. Free feeding is the easiest way for a cat to gain weight. It is as if you left a chocolate cake out on the counter and told your human child to take a bite only when they were hungry -you would be out of cake in a minute!

Choose healthy cat foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Just like humans, proteins will help your cat feel full while carbs will help pack on the extra pounds.  Also, consider reducing the number of treats, and substitute with good ol’ fashion human attention as a praise or reward.

How to help your cat burn a few extra calories:

If you are already reducing their food intake or feel that their food portions are already within a healthy range, consider increasing their exercise level. Games like “laser tag” where they try to catch the red dot of a laser pointer, or having them work for their food (putting it in several, small dishes or piles on a multi-level cat tree, so they must jump and walk around to eat) will help increase their activity and calorie burning!

 

We always recommend checking with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your cat’s lifestyle as some pets can be negatively affected by change. If you are considering making changes to their diet or exercise routine, give us a call! We would be happy to talk with you and confirm that you will see positive benefits to the changes you make!