Most Common Diseases in Multi-Cat Environments

A rundown of the most commonly encountered diseases found in multi-cat environments and why they occur. Infectious diseases are at the top of the list.

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Chronic Diarrhea in Cats

Chronic diarrhea is probably one of the most frustrating conditions, both for the affected cat, and for her guardian. Diarrhea is considered chronic if symptoms persist for longer than three weeks, but any time your cat has diarrhea for more than a day or two, a visit to your veterinarian is indicated, especially if your cat […]

The post Chronic Diarrhea in Cats appeared first on The Conscious Cat.

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Five Common Mistakes Made by Cat Owners

As cat owners, we all want to keep our four-legged friends healthy and happy. And, of course, we want to do everything we can to make sure that happens. Still, the average cat owner often overlooks some important aspects of their pet’s health care. Here are five of the most common mistakes I see cat owners making in my own veterinary practice.

1. Not seeking regular veterinary care

All cats need regular medical care. Yet, on average, cats see their veterinarians less often than their canine counterparts …

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Five Common Mistakes Made by Cat Owners

As cat owners, we all want to keep our four-legged friends healthy and happy. And, of course, we want to do everything we can to make sure that happens. Still, the average cat owner often overlooks some important aspects of their pet’s health care. Here are five of the most common mistakes I see cat owners making in my own veterinary practice.

1. Not seeking regular veterinary care

All cats need regular medical care. Yet, on average, cats see their veterinarians less often than their canine counterparts …

Read More…

Feline Chin Acne

feline chin acneFeline chin acne is similar to the acne that occurs in humans. A form of follicular keratinization in that there is an overproduction of keratin, a protein found in the outer layer of the skin. When this excess keratin get trapped in the hair follicle, comedomes or “blackheads” form. If bacteria infects the comedomes, then pustules or “pimples” are formed.

The exact cause of this skin disorder is not know but may be related to a seborrheic disease such as seborrhea oleosa, or an increase in excess sebum production, the natural moisturizer of the skin. Other causes may be poor grooming habits and in a number of cats, this condition has been linked to the use of colored plastic food dishes.

Early disease shows a black dirty chin and when the blackheads are squeezed, the excess sebum trapped in the hair follicle can be seen. As the disease progresses, infections develop which results in larger, bloody sores and a painful chin.

To treat the disease, the owner must help the cat clean his chin. I recommend a pyoben based gel or shampoo, or an antiseborrheic shampoo to cleanse the affected area. In severe cases, I have often manually expressed the lesions while the cat is under anesthesia in order to get the chin cleaned well. Oral antibiotics will help if the chin is infected.

Daily to weekly cleaning will be needed to keep the condition under control, depending on the severity of the acne.

We also recommend switching the food bowls from  plastic to either ceramic, glass or stainless steel.

Cat in Christmas Lights: White
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Grow your Cat Some Catnip with AeroGarden

I love my AeroGarden. I grew great fresh great herbs like basil and oregano for my spaghetti sauces  and I grew some tasty cherry tomatoes for my salads. Now, they have released a new seed pack for all my cat lovers-Catnip!

catnip

The aerogardens now come in several different colors and styles, including the puppy dog pictured here.

So if you have ever thought about trying to grow your own salads, herbs or give your cat a treat with some catnip, now is the perfect time to try AeroGarden.

Buy Any AeroGarden 6 or 7 and Save $20 When You Buy Additional Units in the Same Order

Brushing your Cat’s Teeth

Tooth Brushing
Brush a cats teeth? This may seem like a daunting task, but your cat can gradually learn to accept daily dental care at home. The key is to start slowly and make the experience as pleasant as possible. Place a small amount of the liquid from a can of water-packed tuna on your finger and allow him to lick it off. Repeat, this time holding his mouth closed and stroking the outside surfaces of his teeth lightly.

Eventually, over a period of one or more weeks, you can substitute a piece of gauze, a finger toothbrush, or a small, soft toothbrush instead of your finger. Remember, unless your veterinarian directs you otherwise, you only need to clean the outside tooth surfaces. This reduces the chance of a painful bite! Once your cat comfortably accepts the brushing process, you can introduce toothpastes designed for pets in place of the tuna water.

The most important aspect of tooth brushing is the mechanical action, but toothpastes can add helpful ingredients like fluoride, enzymes that help break down plaque, and antiseptics that prevent bacterial growth. They are flavored to please your cats palate too. Never use toothpaste designed for people the ingredients may irritate your cats mouth and cause an upset stomach.

Plaque begins to develop within hours after brushing. Within about three days, plaque is converted into tartar. Therefore, daily brushing is recommended. Less frequent brushing is still beneficial, but may allow the gradual development of periodontitis. A daily brushing routine not only keeps your pets mouth healthy but also keeps his breath smelling fresh.

Feral Cats – Living on the Edge of Society

Creeping through the back alleys and vacant lots, millions of stray and feral cats live on the edges of  our cities and suburbs. Fearful of humans, these “wild” cats are blamed for everything from killing off songbirds to attacking the sea otters. So, what is the truth behind these feral felines and why are some humans so determined to help them ans save their lives?

More than 80 million pampered felines share our homes and cat lovers are abundant across our country. But, those cats living outdoors have few admirers and live in constant danger of imminent death, usually at our hands!
There is no way to know for certain, by some experts estimate that the feral cat population in North America may equal or even exceed that of the “owned’ cat population. Feral cats are not socialized to humans and avoid contact with people whenever possible. In contrast, “stray” cats are often those cats that have left a home or have been abandoned by their owners. These strays may have been socialized to humans at one time and will often approach people and may even allow petting.  All cats, feral, stray and owned cats that simply roam the neighborhood are all members of the domestic species, Felis catus.

Traditionally, feral and stray cats are trapped whenever possible and then are taken to local animal shelters. Once at a shelter, if they are socialized to humans and have a calm disposition, some cats may be adopted out. However, the vast majority of these feral cats may be harboring diseases, such as Feline Leukemia, or they are totally wild and cannot be adopted out. These cats will often face death by lethal injection and may be euthanized. According to an organization for feral cats known as Alley Cat Allies (www.alleycat.org) nearly 70% of the cats that arrive at shelters are euthanized making euthanasia the number one documented cause of death in felines in the United States.

Alley Cat Allies formed their organization in 1990 hoping to stop the killing of millions of cats. One of their founders, Becky Robinson, recalls walking in an alleyway and seeing a whole colony of “tuxedo cats”.  Observing the alley cats interacting with one another gave her insight into the social lives of these “wild” animals and prompted her to work towards their preservation. Since that memorable night, Becky and her volunteers have introduced the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) concept to the United States. Originally conceived in England, these TNR programs have helped to improve the health of many feral cats through vaccinations and sterilization and are working towards reducing the size of the feral cat colonies.

Simply put,  the TNR uses volunteers to capture the feral cats in humane cage traps. These wild cats are then transported to participating veterinarians who anesthetize, neuter and vaccinate the animals. To help identify the cats that have been sterilized so that they do not have to be trapped again, a notch is cut in the cat’s ear. The notched ear is easier to see from a distance than a tattoo on their belly. Once they have recovered from the surgery, the cats are taken back to their original capture location and allowed to re-join their home colony. Caretakers will then monitor the overall health of the colony and conduct a population census while providing feeding stations for the cats.

The TNR programs do have their critics. Bird watchers are concerned about the impact of feral cats on songbird populations and other wildlife. Neighbors living near feral cat colonies worry about cats urinating and defecating in their gardens. While public health officials are concerned about zoonotic diseases, such as toxoplasmosis, plague and rabies. These colonies also seem to have a higher incidence of Feline Leukemia, and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus that can cross over to “owned” cats that may be outside. The website TNR Reality Check (www.tnrrealitycheck.com) states that there is little evidence that TNR programs help control the feral cat population.

Ms. Robinson disagrees with their findings and points to several recent scientific articles that demonstrate TNR is a valid means for controlling and even reducing the size of a feral cat colony. Furthermore, she also questions the validity of claims by such groups as the American Bird Conservancy that feral cats are the biggest threat to songbird survival.
Cat owners may also be contributing to the controversial issue. Many of the cats in these feral colonies are abandoned by their owner and are left to fend for themselves in these colonies. Some cat owners are hesitant to take their cats to animal shelters and may feel less guilty about leaving the cat alone outside if they know the colony of feral cats has a caretaker that is feeding the cats. However, this is unfair to the people attempting to care for the colony and exposes your defenseless cat to the dangers of the outdoor world.
With the economy tightening, many people are given the tough choice concerning their pet cats, especially if they are forced to move and cannot afford the pet deposit of the new apartment or rental house. If your personal circumstances changes and you simply cannot continue to keep your cat, do not simply leave your cat to the mercy of the outdoor elements to fend for himself. Contact your local humane group or city shelter and request their assistance to help find your feline friend a new home.

Dealing with the sheer quantity of millions of feral and stray cats in this country alone will be a controversial topic for many years. But, as Becky says, “cats have lived on the outskirts of our society for almost 10,000 years. This is a fact we shouldn’t try to change.”
To learn more about the work of feral cat organizations across the country, feel free to visit www.alleycat.org

Caring for the Older Cat

If your cat is seven years or older, he has entered his golden years. In middle and old age, the metabolism slows, the digestive system has more difficulty absorbing nutrients, and joints and muscles become weaker. Diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, and various cancers are more common. The good news is that many illnesses respond to treatment if discovered early. Here are some simple steps to keep your senior cat healthy and happy.

Routine Veterinary Visits
Even if your cat seems fine, he should visit the veterinarian at least twice yearly. Remember, cats age the equivalent of four or more years for each calendar year. Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive physical examination and listen to your cats heart and lungs. He will check for signs of illness, especially conditions that occur commonly in older cats. Your veterinary visits are also a great opportunity to ask questions.

Diagnostic Tests
When people reach middle age, routine tests such as blood analysis, cancer screening, and evaluation of the heart are recommended to maintain good health. The same is true for older cats. The reason, in both cats and people, is that some illnesses are not visible during a physical examination, but can be detected in other ways. Tests recommended for cats seven years or older are listed below.

Comprehensive Blood Panel Each type of blood cell is counted and the chemical components of the blood plasma are measured. This provides information on the health of the bone marrow, kidneys, liver, pancreas and thyroid, and can help to detect infections.

Complete Urinalysis The concentration and chemical constituents of the urine are measured. Cells and other solids in the urine are examined microscopically. The urinalysis provides information on the health of the kidneys and bladder, and is also useful in the detection of diabetes.

Chest X-Rays X-rays allow visualization of the internal organs of the body. Chest x-rays are recommended to assess the condition of the heart and lungs and to detect tumors.

Abdominal X-Rays X-Rays of the abdomen are helpful to detect tumors and to assess the condition of the kidneys, bladder, intestine, and spleen.

Electrocardiogram This test measures electrical impulses within the heart, using sensors placed on the skin. The ECG is helpful in detecting heart conditions.

Vaccinations
Just as he did when he was younger, your cat continues to benefit from the protection of regular vaccinations against infectious disease. Your veterinarian will recommend a vaccine program tailored to your cats age, lifestyle, and health status.

Nutrition
Healthy older cats require a diet that is lower in calories, while still rich in essential nutrients such as high quality proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Special diets are available to address the more specific requirements of cats with medical conditions. Your veterinarian is your best advisor in selecting a diet that will keep your cat purring.

Dental Care
Keeping your cats teeth and gums healthy is critical to his well being. Dental disease is painful and can lead to infection in the internal organs, such as the kidneys and heart. Your veterinarian should check your cats teeth regularly. He will let you know when your cat needs a professional dental cleaning. Under general anesthesia, all of the plaque, tartar, and bacteria is removed from the. After your cats teeth are clean, it is your job to keep them healthy. Tooth brushing and dental diets are highly effective.

Cancer in Cats

Cancer is the leading cause of death in senior cats. As we already know, this is a very serious disease that can affect virtually all areas of your cats body. However, the spread of cancer is more rapid when certain areas of the body are reached, such as the lungs or liver. There are too many forms of cancer to discuss in this post; so instead, we will discuss various signs that you can be mind of and the veterinary options available.

There are many symptoms to watch for that might indicate your pet has developed a cancer. It is important to realize that many of these symptoms can be related to several other illnesses, so do not assume your cat has cancer until he has been officially diagnosed by a veterinarian. Unexplained weight loss, abdominal distention, respiratory distress, difficulty swallowing, changes in bowel consistency (diarrhea or constipation), blood or mucous in the stool, unusual bleeding or discharge, lameness, growths that can be felt through your pets skin and any areas of skin discoloration should be reported to your veterinarian. Remember that these symptoms are merely indicators that you should bring your cat to see the veterinarian.

Unfortunately, there are no blood tests to determine whether or not cancer is present in our cats. Therefore, acquiring a sample of the tumor through biopsy is often necessary and this sample is normally sent off to a specialized pathologist for microscopic examination. Many cancers can be cured if caught early enough and if the lump is small enough to surgically remove. Even after a lump is removed, your veterinarian may wish to send the sample to a pathologist to ensure that the margins of the growth are cancer free.


If your cat is diagnosed with cancer, many of the same treatment options available to humans are also available for pets. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for pets is offered at most veterinary specialty practices in major metropolitan areas. Your veterinarian will be able to share more information about these treatment options with you. It is important to understand that these therapies are costly and some forms of cancer are more easily treated than others. If chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy are not an option, your cat can be treated symptomatically, and depending on how aggressive the cancer is, your cat may be able to live for several months to a year. Other medications and therapeutic options will be outlined by your veterinarian.

There are steps that can be taken to avoid cancers. Having your pet spayed or neutered will drastically decrease the chances of various reproductive cancers. Feeding your cat a high quality diet and keeping him at a healthy weight will also help to prevent certain cancers. Obesity is a major cause of many cancers in pets. It is impossible to prevent all cancers and genetics also play a role in this disease. If you have any additional questions about a specific cancer or are concerned about your cat, please do not hesitate to discuss this with your veterinarian.