Some issues which the CatLady has addressed in our Past Newsletters are as follows (scroll down to read full articles);
· Holiday Safety for your Pets (2006, Holiday, Issue #7)
· Bad Kitties? With litter-box ISSUES (2006, Aug/Sep, Issue #5)
· Dental Health: Periodontal Disease, Gingivitis-Stomatitus (2006, Feb/March, Issue #4)
· FIV, FeLv & FIP . . . What do these really mean? (2005, Holiday, Issue #3)
Dental Health: Periodontal Disease, Gingivitus-Stomatitus (2006, Feb/Mar, Issue #4)
February is Pet DENTAL Health month. So I’ve decided that this would be a good topic to address. It is unfortunate that many people do not realize that their pet’s teeth and care are just as important as over-all health and well being. Both cats and dogs should have their teeth routinely checked by a vet and cleaned when necessary. Many area vets do offer specials or discounts in February for dental cleanings. Proper dental care could SAVE your pet’s life!
Periodontal disease literally means disease of the tissues that surround and support the teeth. It is suffered sooner or later by the vast majority of cats. It is by far the most common oral condition suffered by cats (as well as dogs). Many of the symptoms of periodontal disease are only obvious on close inspection, by that time a cat has a problem in chewing or closing their mouth the chances are the disease has reached advanced stages. Some of the warning signs are;
1. Bad breath
2. Yellow or brown deposits on the teeth at the edges of the gums
3. Reddened gum edges
4. Receding gums
5. Drooling saliva (which may be tinged with blood)
6. Lack of appetite
7. Mouth pain (pawing at the mouth or rubbing the side of the mouth along the ground)
8. Difficulty in chewing food
9. Inability to close the mouth
1. The presence of bacteria in the plaque on the teeth irritates the gum edges and causes them to become reddened and inflamed– a condition called gingivitis. As the gum grows increasingly inflamed, other bacteria start to cause further damage and the gum may begin to recede around a tooth. Eventually the attachments holding the teeth in place are weakened and the tooth then becomes loose.
2. Unfortunately for pets, their teeth cannot be saved like our own can, which results in them loosing the tooth or teeth which are affected. Advanced periodontal disease is painful for your pet, and is likely to result in tooth loss if left untreated. Furthermore, an infected tooth may lead to more serious complications if not treated. An infected tooth can act as a reservoir of infection and any bacteria may find their way from the tooth– by way of the blood– to your pet’s heart, liver, kidneys and lungs where they can cause more damage.
3. Therefore, good oral hygiene is the key to preventing periodontal disease. The simple removal of plaque before it hardens into tartar and damages your pet’s gums. If it’s possible to brush your pet’s teeth, it would be a good thing to get into the habit of doing, especially if done while they are young. A “special” toothpaste made for pets can be used, this can be found readily available thru your vet, pet stores or pet supply companies. But please DO NOT use human toothpaste on your pet! There are toothpastes for pets that are especially made to be more palatable to your pet’s taste buds, and they are an effective way of removing plaque. However, if you attempt to brush your pet’s teeth and they become distressed, please do NOT force them to accept it. Just arrange for yearly check-ups with your vet, and cleanings as your vet feels are necessary.
7. Inflammation of the mouth lining is a common problem. Gingivitus is a localized inflammation of the gums. Stomatitus is an inflammation of the whole mouth. When these conditions occur together, it is called, gingivitis-stomatitus. This may take the form of a sudden acute condition, but many cats do suffer from chronic gingivitis-stomatitus which does not respond well to therapy.
8. There are many causes for this condition, including;
9. Viral infections– the flu viruses, particularly feline calicivirus, may be responsible. It can cause ulcers to appear in the infected cat’s mouth. Feline immunodeficiency (FIV) and feline leukemia (FELV) may also be associated with longstanding infection of gingivitis-stomatitus.
10. Chemical irritation or traumatic injury– cat’s are very selective about what they pick up in their mouths, so will normally only suffer gingivitis-stomatitius for this reason by accident. For example, such as grooming their coats to remove a substance that is contaminating it or by drinking a poisonous substance such as antifreeze.
11. Periodontal disease– if left untreated will cause gingivitis and will progress to cause chronic inflammation of large areas of the mouth.
12. Other major conditions– serious conditions affecting a cat such as chronic renal failure, or diabetes mellitus may result in the onset of gingivitis-stomatitus. This is because any chronic and debilitating condition may depress a cat’s immune system and will therefore make them more prone to contracting inflammatory mouth disease.
Although it is a relatively common problem, chronic and incurable gingivitis-stomatitus often occurs for unknown reasons.
So smell your pet’s breath and check inside their mouth. If they are showing any symptoms described in this article, you should arrange for them to be checked out by your vet. Routine dental care at home for your pet from an early age, should be one of the priorities of every pet owner who truly wants the best for their pet.
Tartar build-up on teeth
Reddened gums surrounding teeth
Remember, an ounce of prevention, may be worth a pound of cure.
FIV, FeLv & FIP . . . What do these really mean? (2005, Holiday, Issue #3)
Many people find it very confusing when experts start talking about FIV, FeLv and FIP, and many folks still do not know what these are. So, I’d like to start this column off by discussing these TOP THREE deadly diseases which cats can get. This will just be a brief outline, and if necessary I may go into more details on each of these diseases in a future newsletter. It is important that people who have CATS understand these diseases and be fully educated on them. As knowledge leads to understanding . . . .
FIV (Feline Immunosuppressant Virus, a.k.a. Feline Aids)- this in my opinion is the “least” serious of the three diseases. FIV, weakens the cat’s immune system, and is very similar to the Human AIDS virus. However, feline aids is “species specific,” meaning that it can only be passed to another cat, humans can NOT CATCH feline aids. Some experts feel that the only way FIV is spread from cat to cat is through bite wounds that break the skin. This is why FREE roaming un-neutered male cats who fight for territory are at the highest RISK for acquiring this disease, and account for the majority of the FIV cases. Transmission through food and water bowls, litter pans or mutual grooming is unlikely. Recent research has even shown that an FIV positive mother cat is unlikely to pass the disease on to her kittens. FIV positive cats CAN live long healthy lives before showing any signs of illness.
FeLv (Feline Leukemia Virus)- this a MORE serious disease. This disease also weakens a cat’s immune system, but it is very contagious, and is spread through close contact with an infected cat. However, it must be close contact for an “extended” period of time. A brief chance encounter with an infected cat is very unlikely to spread the disease. Also the virus is very fragile, once it leaves the host’s body it will thrive for only a few minutes on a dry surface, but will live slightly longer in a wet environment. Thankfully, this virus is quickly killed by most household cleansers. Cats infected with FeLv, seem to be more susceptible to certain types of cancer, and often become sick with secondary infections more than FIV positive cats. The life expectancy of cats who test positive for this disease is not as long.
FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis)- this by far the WORST of the diseases any cat can get, this is also the most confusing disease for cat owners to understand. Fortunately it is not as widely spread in the general cat population. The disease is caused by a coronavirus. Most cats have a small trace of coronaviruses, but develop an immunity or resistance to the disease. However, for some reason in some cats this coronavirus mutates into FIP. In my personal experience I have found this to run in an entire litter of kittens. If one kitten from a litter is tested
positive, then the chances are that ALL their littermates will have it too. If a cat is diagnosed with FIP it will usually appear “before” the age of 2 years or after the age of 8 years. There is controversy over exactly HOW contagious this disease is. Some experts feel it is VERY contagious. However, in my many years of dealing with cats I have NOT found this to be true.
To make issues more complicated, it must also be stated that there are TWO forms of FIP, “wet” and “dry.” The “wet” form, is very obvious. Fluid builds up in the kitten or cat’s abdomen until it looks grotesque. The dry form is harder to diagnose. There is no definitive test for FIP, a vet tests the titer level of the coronavirius in a kitten/cat’s blood, and this combined with clinical signs helps them to make a positive diagnosis of FIP. From my personal experience, I have never been able to save a kitten/cat who was positive for this disease. This disease is a death sentence, there currently are no known cures for it.
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Bad Kitties? With litter-box ISSUES (2006, Aug/Sept, Issue #5)
Bad kitties who eliminate outside their litter-boxes, how do we FIX this behavior issue? This is NOT an easy issue, and it is a very annoying and frustrating one for pet owners and their cats. The underlying CAUSES of this can be very complex and requires an owner who is WILLING to make the effort to go above and beyond the call of duty. FIRST, you need to determine if it is a MEDICAL condition that is causing your kitty to misbehave. Most cats are very fastidious and will cover up their wastes (e.g. use a litter box). This instinctive behavior can be seen in even young kittens. So make an appointment to see your vet, to determine if your pet has a urinary infection or blockage of some sort that is causing them to do this. If your vet can find that there’s NO medical reason, then it’s a behavior issue.
Is your cat fixed? If they aren’t, then what’s happening is they are “marking” their territory, both sexes WILL do this. The simple solution, get kitty fixed!
Behavior issues require examining WHAT changes have occurred around the time your kitty started misbehaving. Was another family member/or pet added to the family? A “change” of routine with your work schedule or a family member leaving, that could be stressing your kitty? Are you using a new/different brand of litter? Did you change the location of their litter-box? Is their litter-box in a high traffic or noisy location (cat do like some privacy when they’re doing their business, so location of their litter-box is important). If they have to go by Fido, who wants to chase them to get to their litter-box, then the chances are they’ll find a different place to do their business.
Being very CLEAN creatures, cats like “clean” litter-boxes. Are you dumping old litter, and scrubbing their box clean and then filling it up with fresh litter? Personally, I wouldn’t care for a smelly outhouse, and your kitty is no different. Remember their sense of smell is greater than ours, and a smelly litter-box will not be very enticing for them to use. I try to scoop the wastes out of my cats litter box at least once or twice a day. If you have MORE than one cat, the general rule of thumb is ONE litter box for EACH cat. You can also try a special litter called, “Cat Attract” that is guaranteed to get kitty to go back to using their litter box.
Many irresponsible owners who have cats with “litter-box” issues don’t want to deal with it, and will dump their cats off at a local shelter or just kick them out of the house to fend for their self. This is definitely NOT a good thing for kitty.
Let me share with you the story of Catherine, a beautiful and very sweet Siamese cat who absolutely adored people and being loved. She had litter-box issues. Sometimes she would be good and would use the litter-box, other times she’d pee on the rugs in the house or on papers/magazines.
Catherine originally came from a shelter. She was an ONLY cat in her original home, she started misbehaving when her primary caretaker moved to NYC for a job and left her at home alone with her husband and teenage children (who were rarely home). She did NOT like being alone with no one to talk to her and give her attention. When her caretaker came back home and found a local job, the issues started to fade away. However, there was stress in the household and her caretaker applied for a separation from her husband and moved into an apartment which did not allow pets. So in January of 2006, Catherine went to live with a foster family that had a multi-cat household (of five cats).
She wasn’t happy with the OTHER cats, there were fights and hissing. After two weeks she started peeing on the throw rugs in her new home and on the outside of the litter boxes. This finally progressed to the bedroom, bathroom and living room carpets. By July the foster house smelled close to a giant litter-box. Her foster mom took her to a vet to make sure she had no medical problems that were causing this behavior, she passed with flying colors.
Her picture had been posted on our ADOPTION page and was also listed with Siamese Rescue Metro. However, there weren’t too many folks who wanted to take a chance on a cat with KNOWN litter-box issues. The foster mom was 99% positive that IF Catherine were adopted into a home where she was the ONLY cat who got ALL the attention that there would be NO litter-box issues. It was thought that the reason she was peeing outside the box was because the house smelled like the “other” cats, so Catherine would pee on the rugs, to try to make the house smell more like HER (i.e. mark her territory). Sometimes she WAS good and would use the litter box, but other times she wouldn’t. Also, it was believed that Catherine did not appreciate “sharing” her litter-box with the other cats and that she wanted her very own box.
In July, Siamese Rescue Metro contacted her foster mom, they had found someone who was interested in adopting Catherine, however, they lived in Massachusetts. The adopter was TOLD about Catherine’s “peeing” issues, but she was willing to take a chance on Catherine. This woman was middle aged, lived in an apartment by herself and had NO other pets, exactly what WE thought Catherine needed! On July 29th, Catherine and her foster parents began their 8 hour trip to Catherine’s new home.
Catherine handled her long ride very well and would make an excellent traveling companion. When she arrived at her new mom’s home, she came down from her loft in the cage to greet her new mom. There was no hiding in a corner, hissing or scratching. She was taken into her new home and ran around investigating her new surroundings (probably to make sure there were NO other cats), and then plopped on the living room rug and rolled over. When her new mom called her, she went right to her. That night she let her new mom know when her food dish was empty, and she sat next to her new mom on the sofa for some good one-on-one TLC, when it was time to go to bed Catherine hopped into bed and curled up to her new mom. After a few weeks we followed up to see how things were going. Her new mom adores Catherine and has no regrets about adopting her or taking a chance on her. There have been NO accidents and Catherine has been using her litter-box. She greets her new mom at the door when she comes home from work and loves watching her 3yr old grandson play when he comes over to visit.
The moral of this story, goes to show that not all BEHAVIOR issues are permanent, and that if kitty is given a chance, the behavior may go away. Unfortunately, as in this case the kitty needed to be an ONLY pet., and needed to be around some one who was home and who had a regular routine, with no stress in the home. A multi-cat household was not a good thing for her. Catherine and her new mom are very happy together, this was a match made in HEAVEN! It was definitely meant to be.
Holiday SAFETY for Your Pets (2006, Holiday, Issue #7)
With the Holidays just around the corner please be aware that there are dangerous things that your pet can get into that may make them sick or even be life threatening.
Chocolates are NOT good for ANY pets, dogs seem to be the ones most attracted to this. Tinsel and other glittery items are very tempting to cats, if cats should eat these items it could make them sick or get caught in their digestive tract. Poinsettia plants aren’t great either, but LILY plants are far more toxic, and can be life threatening if they are eaten. Try growing some “cat grass” for your cats, they will be more attracted to the grass and will choose it over your household plants. It is nutritionally GOOD for them and much gentler on their stomach (the seeds can be purchased in most pet stores, or you can get it from CatHaven for a $3 donation).
If you have kids who fancy “glow” jewelry or light sticks, please keep in mind that these items contain a substance called dibutylphthalate, an oily substance which isn’t totally toxic, but it has an unpleasant taste and can cause your pet to become agitated, drool and vomit.
Liquid potpourri smells great around the holidays, but it contains a toxic cationic detergent and essential oils that can burn a cat’s mouth, skin, eyes and upset the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system. Drooling is a sign of potpourri poisoning, so keep these items in safe places your cat cannot reach.
Don’t be careless with YOUR medicines either. Did you know that cats are even more sensitive to ibuprofen than dogs are? One adult size acetaminophen tablet can be lethal to your cat. Amphetamines for humans or antidepressants (effexor) should NEVER be given to your pets. While many items humans use are safe, don’t assume they’re okay for your pet too. Always check with your VET “first” before using any human medicines on your pets.
Items like anticoagulant rodenticides (used for rats & mice), can be very toxic to your cat! Do NOT use stuff for DOGS (canine permethrin or topical insecticides , for flea/insect control) on cats. Your cat can go into seizures and die from them! There are specific insecticides that are SAFE for cats and that contain a dosage that their bodies can safely handle.
If you think your cat (or dog) has been poisoned, then you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at– 1-888-426-4435 for help and advise.
Make the HOLIDAYS SAFE and happy for your pets too!
5165 Broadway # 230
Depew, N.Y. 14043
In May 2007, we were sadly informed that this beautiful, sweet girl was put to sleep in April 2007, her mom found a lump on her in October of 2006. The vet diagnosed it as a rare skin cancer.
At least Catherine’s last days were full of love with a mom who loved her and whom she adored just as much. . .