Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Lilies are Downright Dangerous

As far as plants go, lilies are among the most beautiful. They smell lovely and seem to last forever, making them a fantastic addition to any floral arrangement. Humans adore them and most animals aren’t bothered by them, but for cats, lilies are positively deadly. And it doesn’t take much. A single bite of leaf or lick of pollen can be all it takes to send a cat into irreversible kidney failure. As cat owners, we all need to be aware of how dangerous this common household plant can be, and take the necessary steps to keep our unsuspecting pets safe.

What makes lilies so toxic to cats?

• We don’t know exactly which chemical within the lily is so dangerous, but we do know that ingesting the smallest amount of leaf, stem, flower or even pollen can be deadly.
• Most types of lilies are poisonous, including asian lilies (Lily asiatica), tiger lilies (Lilium tigrinum), stargazer lilies (Lilium orientalis) and Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum)….

What NOT to buy your pet for Christmas!

The nights have drawn in, Merry Hill is heaving and the carols have already been playing for weeks – it’s Christmas! If you are anything like me and leave everything to the last minute, you don’t have much time to plan the ideal gifts and sometimes you buy things that aren’t always that suitable. Now, I can’t tell you what not to buy for your Dad (although I’m guessing he doesn’t really want socks again) but I can tell you what not to buy for your pets!

It may be getting cold outside, but it’s always flea season at home…

I see it almost every day, and constantly warn my clients about it, yet somehow even I wasn’t expecting it – yes, last week my very own cat came home with fleas. ‘How could this happen to me?’ I said, ‘I’m the vet!’ Well, the answer is very simple. I, like many of us, forgot to apply my cat’s flea preventative for the past few months. The weather was getting colder and she wasn’t going out as much, and with everything else going on the monthly treatment just slipped my mind. It sure was a wakeup call, however, to find the tell-tale rusty brown dirt on my cat’s favourite bed. And let’s face it, fleas are downright creepy. They eat blood and leave their faeces all over your pet, not to mention the fact that they can live in your carpets and even jump up and bite you. But at the same time, they’re pretty amazing little creatures, and successful ones at that….

Remember, remember……..it’s time to plan for fireworks night 2012. Cats and dogs that are scared of fireworks.

Fireworks can be an enjoyable spectacle, but not for everybody. Many dogs and cats are very frightened by loud noises, and in some this fear is severe enough to be a noise phobia. For these pets and their owners, the days or weeks around November 5th each year can be a nightmare.

The sorts of behaviour shown by noise phobic pets when they hear fireworks (or thunder or gunshots) can range from mild anxiety to sheer terror. In between these two extremes pets may pace around, refuse to settle, whine, bark, chew things up, dig holes, urinate or defaecate indoors or run away. A pet which bolts when frightened is at risk of having or causing a road accident. As owners, naturally we all want to reduce the distress our pets are feeling.

There is a lot that can be done to help pets through these problems, and the key to this is to plan as early as possible. Seek advice from your local veterinary surgery, where your vet or nurse will be able to help you decide on the best strategy for your pet.

Vaccination in Cats – Why Should We Bother?

As the current economic situation continues to squeeze the family finances, I have noticed an increase in clients who would prefer not to vaccinate their cat. There are probably many more who are simply not showing up for their yearly exam so we don’t even have a chance to discuss the issue with them. Now, there are certainly times when I would accept that a cat should not be vaccinated, and in fact I often have to convince my clients NOT to vaccinate their pet if they are ill in any way. Vaccines are part of a preventative medicine protocol, and should in most cases only be given to healthy pets when the benefit of having the vaccine on board outweighs the risk of giving it. In most cases, however, the benefit far outweighs the risk, and therefore responsible vaccination is highly recommended. I’ll discuss what ‘responsible’ vaccination means in greater detail in my next blog, but first I thought I might explain a bit more about why vaccination is so important.
What diseases are cats routinely vaccinated against?
Feline vaccinations are generally separated into ‘core’ (those that every cat should have) and ‘non-core’ (those that only high-risk cats should receive). The four core vaccines that should be given to every cat are parvovirus, herpesvirus, calicivirus, and rabies. The rabies vaccine, however, should only be given in areas where rabies is a concern (for example, in the United States). The UK is currently rabies-free, therefore British cats are not routinely given the rabies vaccine unless they will be travelling to other countries. If you would like more information about the rabies vaccine, please speak with your vet. There may very well come a day when we are also required to vaccinate for rabies in the UK, but for now I’ll concentrate on the first three diseases.

When Liver Meets Lungs – Diaphragmatic Hernia in a Cat

One evening whilst playing outside, a little 6 month old kitten (let’s call her Tilly) climbed up a tree. A rather inexperienced hunter, when she saw a little birdie on the end of the branch she reached out to get it and, crash! The branch was too thin to support her weight and she fell to the ground. Now what they say is often true, cats do tend to land on their feet, but not always and poor Tilly landed on her side. She got up though and ran into the house, so her owner assumed she was OK. A few hours later her owner noticed that she was quieter than normal and not interested in her dinner. She was also breathing faster than normal but otherwise seemed OK, purring and affectionate, so her owner went to bed and planned to take her to the vet if she was still not right in the morning.

As you could probably guess, at 8:00 the next morning I got a phone call from Tilly’s owner, as she had not gotten any better overnight – she was still very quiet and breathing even faster than before. We told her to come straight down and we would take a look right away. A few minutes later Tilly arrived, looking quite sorry for herself, but still happy enough to give me a little purr. I did a full physical exam and found her to be in good health except for her breathing, which sounded quieter than normal through the stethoscope. Her respiratory or breathing rate was very high and she seemed to be struggling to get enough air in. She also seemed depressed, certainly not what I would expect of such a lively young kitten. Once we were certain that everything else seemed to be OK, we gave her some pain medicine and then a little bit of sedation so she would sit still while we took some x-rays of her chest. What we found was no surprise given her history, but still always comes as a bit of a shock when we see it – Tilly had a diaphragmatic hernia.

What is a diaphragmatic hernia?

The diaphragm is a large, thin muscle that separates the chest cavity (with the heart and lungs) from the abdomen (with the stomach, liver and intestines among other things). It is normally an air-tight barrier which allows the chest cavity to achieve negative pressure, in other words there is pressure on the lungs to expand out rather than collapse in. When the diaphragm moves down with each breath, the lungs move with it causing them to expand even further when you breathe in. And when it moves back up again, it helps the lungs to contract so the air is forced out when you exhale. Without a diaphragm or with a damaged one you can still breathe, just not very well, and this is what poor Tilly was experiencing. A hernia is the protrusion of an organ through a hole in the body cavity which normally contains it. In the case of a diaphragmatic hernia, a hole develops in the diaphragm which allows the organs of the abdomen to enter the chest cavity……………………………….

Fluffy Can Give Blood Too! Blood Transfusions in Cats

For the past month our local radio station has been bombarding us with adverts asking us to give blood due to increased need over the holidays. My husband and I ignored them at first but then eventually gave in. On the way home after giving blood, we started talking about cats donating blood and I realised it had been ages since I’d seen a feline blood transfusion. They are relatively uncommon, especially in general practice, but it’s an interesting subject so I thought I might look into it a bit further. Hopefully your cat will never need a blood transfusion, but if they do (or if you’re just curious about the whole process!), here’s a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes.

Why would a cat need a blood transfusion?

The main reason why cats get blood transfusions is because they are severely anaemic, which means they don’t have enough red blood cells in their blood. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying the body’s oxygen, so not having enough of them leads to serious problems. Anaemia can occur for three main reasons – not enough red blood cells are produced (problems with the bone marrow or chronic diseases such as cancer), too many are lost (major bleeding after an injury or surgery), or too many are destroyed (autoimmune disease or poisoning). Mild anaemia is not a problem and the cat’s body… read more

“Please don’t tell me I have to brush my cat’s teeth, because I’d rather keep my fingers…”

My last article talked about a few of the dental problems most commonly seen in cats, and how easily they can be missed by both owners and vets. Remember, a cat with dental disease will probably act just like a healthy cat, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in pain! I’ll continue now by mentioning some of the preventative measures and treatments that can help keep your cat’s mouth healthy and pain-free.

What can I do to help prevent dental disease in cats?

Of the diseases mentioned previously, periodontal disease (gum disease) is by far the most common but fortunately the easiest to help prevent. Although genetics plays some role in whether or not a particular cat is going to have bad teeth, there are several things you can do to help keep the pain and inflammation to a minimum…

Just because they’re still eating doesn’t mean their teeth don’t hurt! Dental Disease in Cats – Part 1

“ Sure his teeth are a little dirty but he’s still eating so they can’t be that bad, right?” This is one of the biggest myths in veterinary medicine yet it is sadly repeated almost daily by my clients. It’s certainly understandable though – if we have a toothache, we tend to alter our diet rapidly to find foods that are suitably easy to chew and then book ourselves in to see the dentist as soon as possible. Cats (and dogs, but we’ll focus on cats in this article) would probably do the same, if they could, but I can’t recall the last time I saw Fluffy order her own meals or pick up the telephone! Cats are still in many ways wild animals with natural instincts, and those instincts tell them that if they don’t eat, they’ll die. For the same reasons, they are masters of hiding their pain, illnesses or anything that might make them seem vulnerable. Therefore a cat with a toothache will probably act and eat very much like a cat without a toothache, suffering in silence. Sure, there are some dental conditions that will cause a cat to stop eating, but by the time this happens they are usually so severe that they have become systemically ill……

Chronic Diarrhoea in Cats – Could it be Tritrichomonas foetus?

Marla is an older cat who has recently had the displeasure of becoming a frequent visitor to our practice. She was adopted not long ago from an animal shelter and now lives with a lovely woman who thankfully has a lot of patience!

Marla first came to see us because she had developed diarrhoea and a red, irritated rear end. She had a type of diarrhoea called ‘colitis’ (which simply means inflammation of the large intestine or colon), that caused her to strain frequently to produce small amounts of sometimes bloody stool. She was treated with antibiotics and her diet was changed to something that was bland and easy to digest, and although sometimes her symptoms seemed to improve a little they continued. A standard stool sample was run but this was negative for all worms and harmful bacteria. After nearly a month of problems and after trying every routine treatment out there, we decided to try one last and wouldn’t you know, it came back positive!…..

More Useful Information

Examining your pet

Simple ways to check the health of your pet. Vets use these techniques as part of their clinical examiniation.

Medicating your pet

Arming you with the same simple techniques for stress free pill giving.

Worming & Flea Treatment

Information and advice in treating your pet for worms and fleas.