Is Your Cat Freaking Out?
Stress can make anyone a little crazy, even our cats. The tricky part is while the anxiety and fear associated with stress affects our cats in much the same way it does us, most cats tend to hide and mask their inner turmoil. Even worse, stress can be an indication your cat has a health issue. According to Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist, chronic stress even "suppresses the immune response, causing a broad range of illnesses." Here are some signs of stress you'll want to watch out for in your cat, especially if they occur suddenly.
1. Urinating Outside Litter Box
It's annoying, smelly and a pain to clean up, but pay attention. Cats that urinate outside the litter box are trying to tell us something. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist to find out what it is.
2. Diarrhea, Constipation or other Digestive Issue
This is another rather stinky situation and one that could be indicative of several things. Best not let it go and speak with your vet.
3. Excessive Grooming
Cats are known for their fastidious grooming, but licking themselves raw or bald is a clear sign of distress. Skip the groomer and go straight for the vet's office.
4. Excessive Scratching
Like compulsive licking, excessive scratching can be indicative of several health and behavioral issues. Make an appointment with your veterinarian before the problem gets out of hand.
Aloofness is second nature to cats. However, a cat should not be actively and constantly hiding from you and everyone else in the house. Once you've managed to wrangle him or her into a cat carrier, go to the vet.
6. Excessive Vocalization
Many find the tone of a cat "talking" quite soothing, but be wary of unusually long or recurring bouts of panicked meows — especially if your cat is not the typical "talker." If it does happen, take your cat to the veterinarian rather than try to crack the kitty language code.
7. Decrease in Appetite
Cats don't go on fasts or diets like we do so it's important to consult a veterinarian if your cat suddenly loses interest in food or stops eating altogether.
8. Increased Sleeping
Just because cats can sleep up to 20 hours a day doesn't necessarily mean your cat will. By now you will have become accustomed to his or her sleeping schedule. Speak with your veterinarian if you're cat is sleeping more than usual or seems overly lethargic.
9. Aggression Towards Other Animals
Fights or aggressive actions towards household pets or other animals can be a sign of a stressed or sick cat. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before the problems gets worse.
10. Aggression Towards People
A stressed or sick cat may also display aggression towards people, even you. Again, it's best to consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist immediately.
Puppy skin is extra sensitive. This is especially true in areas that lack a protective covering of hair. Those almost naked Buddha-bellies are cute, but they are prime candidates for a condition known as puppy pyoderma.
“Pyoderma” is simply a technical way of saying “skin infection.” What distinguishes puppy pyoderma from other skin infections is the fact that it is diagnosed in a young animal and no predisposing cause can be diagnosed. In fact, the underlying condition that leads to puppy pyoderma is puppyhood itself.
Skin is awash in bacteria. One of the most abundant, normal bacterial inhabitants of canine skin is Staphylococcus intermedius. Under normal circumstances, S. intermedius lives in harmony with its host. The defense mechanisms of healthy skin keep bacterial numbers down to a level that is not associated with disease. However, a puppy’s skin is immature. Local immunity is not fully developed, and the skin hasn’t had a chance to “toughen up” yet. The sparsely haired areas of a puppy’s abdomen are easily irritated by things in the environment, which is often all that is needed to tip the balance in favor of the bacteria.
Red bumps or pimple-like lesions affecting primarily the “armpits,” groin, or other sparsely haired areas are the classic symptoms of puppy pyoderma. Over time these primary lesions may turn into scabs or patches of scaly skin. Affected puppies are usually a little itchy, but otherwise seem completely healthy. A veterinarian may suspect that his or her patient has puppy pyoderma, but because these symptoms can be associated with other common skin conditions, a few simple tests are usually in order, including:
Once the diagnosis of puppy pyoderma has been confirmed, the question of how best to treat it must be answered. Mild cases will sometimes resolve without intervention, particularly if the puppy is nearing adulthood. If a diligent owner is willing to keep a close eye on the condition, a prescription of “watchful waiting” is not unreasonable. If there is any doubt, however, I recommend a topical antiseptic wash like chlorhexidine, plus or minus a topical antibiotic ointment. More severely affected puppies should also receive oral or injectable antibiotics.
Puppy pyoderma is often compared to impetigo in human children. Both conditions are, in essence, superficial skin infections, but an important difference is that puppy pyoderma is not contagious either to other animals or to people.
Once a puppy has matured, he or she should no longer be at risk for puppy pyoderma. If skin infections continue to be a problem, a veterinarian will need to go on a thorough search for a causative underlying condition. Possibilities include allergies, external parasites, hormonal imbalances, or abnormalities in the anatomy or physiology of the skin.
NEW DELHI, July 31, 2014 (AFP) - India has hired a group of monkey impersonators to scare the real marauding animals away from parliament and other key buildings in the nation's capital, officials said Thursday.
The "very talented" group of men has taken to wearing monkey masks, imitating their whoops and barks and hiding behind trees to ward off the aggressive animals, the head of the Delhi municipality told AFP.
Groups of monkeys, which are revered in the majority Hindu nation, roam freely around Delhi's streets where they trash gardens, offices and even attack people in their search for food.
Concerns about the monkey population were raised in parliament where India's government was asked what it was doing to combat the problem.
An Indian minister said 40 trained men had in fact been hired to protect the raucous house, itself accused of monkey-like behaviour, from the animal intruders.
"Various efforts are being made to tackle the monkey and dog menace inside and around the parliament house," Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in a written reply to a lawmaker's question.
"The measures include scaring the monkeys away by trained persons who disguise themselves as langurs (long tailed monkeys)."
"The New Delhi Municipal Corporation has hired 40 young persons for this purpose," Naidu added.
The NDMC, the body tasked with providing civic services, said the men were "very talented" and had been trained to "closely copy" the noises and actions of the more aggressive langurs to scare away the smaller rhesus macaques.
"They often wear a mask on their faces, hide behind the trees and make these noises to scare away the simians," NDMC chairman Jalaj Srivastava told AFP.
Monkey catchers and their trained langurs used to be hired by wealthy home owners, politicians and business people to patrol the streets to keep wild monkeys at bay.
But the government cracked down on the business last year after a court ruled that keeping monkeys in captivity was cruel.
With its lush lawns and gardens, monkeys are drawn to the streets around parliament, which is also home to top bureaucrats, business leaders and foreign embassies.
Losing a pet is something that’s challenging for any owner. As a veterinarian, the passing of my patients is an inevitable conclusion to our relationship that I strive to stave off until their quality of life has been significantly compromised.
Recently, one of my longest-term Los Angeles patients, Maui, was put to sleep in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by her canine and human family members. Although Maui’s exact mix of breeds was never known, she looked like a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Greyhound. I knew Maui both in sickness and in health and am grateful to have gotten to know her and her doting daddies.
Here is Maui’s memorial as written by one of those dads, Michael Rozales:
The year was 1997; Bill Clinton was president, Princess Diana died after a car crash in Paris, the first Prius went into production, and James Cameron’s Titanic premiered. That year my boyfriend talked about how much he wanted a dog. I always liked dogs but our family never had a dog growing up andit didn’t seem that important to me. I soon started visiting various animal shelters around Los Angeles to check out the available dogs.
My life changed on a sunny fall day in November. I went to the Santa Monica Animal Shelter, and like all the shelters where they allow you to just walk up and down the aisles of cages, all the dogs are usually barking all around you. But not this time. Sitting quietly and staring up at me was a scrawny 25 pound black labby-houndy looking dog with huge floppy ears and big brown eyes. She just looked at me with this cocked head and wagging tail, so I asked to take her out to play and to get to know her. We played, we sat, we ran, and she loved when I rubbed her all over — especially on her big soft ears. I can’t recall how long we spent together in the outdoor pen that first time but I knew she was coming home with me.
At the front desk I filled out all the necessary paperwork and paid the fees. And then they said, “You can pick her up in a few days from the birth control clinic,” where she was to be spayed. I was so disappointed she wasn’t leaving with me that second, but even more upset that she had to go back into that cage. I wanted her to know everything was going to be okay. I left the shelter happy and excited but so anxious to get her. I knew she would be fine but still wished she was coming home with me.
A few days later, I arrived at the now gone Animal Birth Control Clinic on Pico near the 10 Freeway in West Los Angeles, pulled into the back in my Saturn and went inside to get her. They brought her out to me. She was a little disoriented from the surgery, so I cradled her like a baby and brought her to my car. I slowly drove her to the house I was renting where my boyfriend and roommates were waiting. Her deep black fur looked like pictures of black sand beaches, and from that visual the name Maui came to me. Although later on someone told me that there are no black sand beaches in Maui, I thought “Oh well.” The name fit her to a T.
From the moment she entered our lives, she was loved by all. All our friends, our awesome roommates through the years with their dogs, and anyone else who would meet her would always comment as to what a great disposition she had. She loved everyone and almost all dogs. Yes, she was stubborn at times, did nervous pees anytime I came home or someone came through the door those first few months, threw up in my car from my driving, and was growing into and becoming what would eventually turn into an almost two decade long run of pure amazing unconditional love and affection. When you were feeling down or sad, Maui would cuddle with you; just rubbing her ears made everything okay. When her little sister Chloe, a tiny, four-pound Papillon, arrived, Maui showed the same unfettered love and attention she was awesome at giving.
In 2003 my life changed when I met my future husband and soul mate Mike Payne fresh off the boat (literally… fresh off working on cruise ships). Mike and I started building a life together. He loved, adored, and took care of Maui and Chloe as if he was there from the beginning of their lives. As a new Dad, he was the best. Whether it was hiking at Runyon Canyon or out to brunch on a Sunday, our family was great with Maui the matriarch at the helm (although Chloe was always the real boss). When our youngest dog Posh came into our lives in 2007, she instantly became the best little sister to Maui and Chloe and was the best at getting an 11 years young Maui to play and run around with her. Even as she started getting older and slower, Maui loved having play time with her little sister Posh.
While the last few years have definitely been a challenge for Maui, she relentlessly got up every morning with Mike to go for a walk — even up to her last week with us. She was a trooper, and while friends, family and neighbors would look at her lean and frail body in disbelief, Maui the trooper was not going anywhere.
We always said we would know when it was time to let her go, and as hard as it was to face, it actually wasn’t that hard on Saturday when we she let us know it was time for her to go. It was the absolute hardest and emotionally draining thing we have ever done, but it was the right thing to do. She gave us over 18 AMAZING years of love and she got it right back.
I’m sure all owners say their dog was the best, but she was one of a kind and she was our best. We will miss her terribly, but she is in a much better place now. We won the lottery with her, as did she with us and everyone else in her life. We love you forever and ever and all eternity, Maui. Now go eat all the cat poop you want, baby!
Deciding whether to spay or neuter your pet is a big decision for a dog or cat owner. For many owners, the thought of anesthesia is scary. Some owners also worry that their pet’s personality will change after the surgery. Let’s talk about the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet and what you can do to ensure the health and well-being of your pet after the procedure.
In terms of the worries an owner faces at the prospect of spaying or neutering their pet, it’s important to note that, while it cannot be said there is no risk with anesthesia, the risk is minimal. Veterinarians today have anesthetic agents and monitoring equipment that make anesthesia safe and effective. And while behavioral changes can occur in spayed or neutered pets, the changes are more likely to be positive than negative.
Spaying or neutering your pet is, undoubtedly, the socially responsible thing to do. By spaying or neutering your pet, you remove the potential for an accidental mating that will result in puppies or kittens that will add to the number of homeless pets currently found in shelters and rescues. But this is far from the only benefit.
Benefits of Spaying a Female Pet
A female pet that is spayed no longer comes in heat. As a result, there is no need to deal with the mess that female dogs can make when going through their heat cycle. Nor will you need to deal with the annoyance of a female cat in heat. For those of you unaware, dogs bleed while in heat. Cats, on the other hand, do not bleed but do vocalize, often in a quite disturbing manner. Both dogs and cats in heat will draw male dogs and cats, respectively, from far and wide. These animals can also make quite a nuisance of themselves as they hang around your home.
There is also the fact that females that have been spayed, particularly those spayed at a young age, have a much lower risk of breast (or mammary) cancer. Many times, this form of cancer is malignant and can metastasize to the lungs, lymph nodes, and other parts of the body. However, spaying dogs and cats before their first heat cycle very rarely develop these tumors.
Because the reproductive tract is removed during the spay procedure, female dogs and cats are no longer at risk for developing a severe and potentially fatal form of uterine infection known as a pyometra either. This is another major benefit.
Benefits of Neutering a Male Pet
Unaltered male pets often develop behavioral issues that can be difficult to tolerate and impossible to manage. They are more likely to roam and to fight with other animals, resulting in injuries that can be serious in nature. Intact males also tend to mark their territory more commonly than neutered males or females. In the case of an unaltered male cat, the urine has a very strong and pungent smell. These types of issues, though still possible in an unaltered male, are much less likely to occur. In addition, neutered males tend to be easier to train.
Besides the behavioral benefits of neutering, there are some health benefits as well. Neutered males are less likely to develop prostate problems, including prostate cancer.
Spayed/Neutered Pets Live Longer Than Those That Remain Intact
For the vast majority of pets, spaying or neutering is the right decision. Overall, spayed and neutered pets live longer, healthier lives. However, there have been some studies that have indicated that dogs that are spayed or neutered, especially at a young age, may have a higher risk of certain forms of musculoskeletal and other disease, including bone cancer and cranial cruciate injuries. These studies generally have looked at a specific breed. This information makes it important to discuss with your veterinarian the best age at which to spay or neuter your pet. Your pet may have individual risk factors that influence the decision about when, or if, to spay or neuter.
Responsibilities of a Pet Owner After a Pet Is Spayed/Neutered
Spaying or neutering a pet does affect that pet’s metabolism. As a result, these pets may become more prone to weight gain if allowed to overeat. Choosing the correct diet and feeding the diet in quantities that keep your pet lean and fit are essential.
Exercise is another important part of keeping your spayed or neutered pet lean and fit. Just as in people, exercise burns calories and keeps muscles and joints supple and healthy.
All pets, whether spayed or neutered, should be visiting their veterinarian at a minimum once yearly for a thorough physical examination. Part of that physical examination will include an evaluation of your pet’s body condition, weight, diet, and exercise program. Your veterinarian can help you determine what diet, in what quantity, is appropriate for your pet as well as helping you develop an exercise program that will benefit your pet.
HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR CAT WAKING YOU AT NIGHT
Owning a cat is a fantastic and rewarding experience. And in the end, they become more like our children than mere pets. Unfortunately, just like young children, they can keep us awake at night for various reasons. This lack of sleep often wreaks havoc on our lives, especially for those of us who have to get up early for work.
So, why do cats keep you up at night? And what can you do about it?
Melanie, for instance, has had cats all her life. But her new kitty, Iggy, has been leaving her exhausted at work. "He thinks it’s playtime when I am trying to get to bed. And everything is a toy, even my fingers and feet. I don’t know what to do!"
If this sounds familiar, don’t start weeping. As Melanie discovered, the answer was pretty simple. She sets aside between 30 minutes to an hour for kitty playtime. Laser lights, colorful string, toy mice, whatever gets the cat worked up. Of course, as she says, "You need to be part of the play. Sometimes I run around the house with Iggy chasing me, and it works beautifully -- for both of us. At bedtime we’re both extremely tired and sleep like logs."
John had a similar problem. His cat, Shadow, would always "run around like a mad thing at the most inopportune time -- from 3 to 6 o'clock in the morning. And not just running and leaping about, but yowling." It was driving John crazy.
His solution? "Playing with Shadow helped, a little. But after I got him neutered he calmed down. My vet said it helps tomcats calm down, and it worked." It helps by stopping those irksome I-want-to go-on-the-prowl-and-meet-a-lady-cat hormones. The other bonus: your cat won’t start spraying in the house. And what about queens (also known as female cats)? It helps them, too. No unwanted kittens and no going into heat. Perfect.
Erin had a slightly different problem with her cat, Charlie. "Working long hours meant when I got home, sometimes late at night, all I wanted to do was collapse in bed. But Charlie wasn’t having any of it. He’d not only run about, jump on me and wake me, but would also be very vocal. I don't think I had a good night's sleep for a month."
Erin tried playing with Charlie; she even tried feeding him catnip. Finally she came to a realization. "He was bored all day by himself. So I got another cat. I did worry they wouldn’t get along, so I waited until I had a week’s vacation. Now, Charlie and Bella are best buds and when I get home, we play and then go to sleep."
James had this to say about his cat. "Tigra was fine when we went to bed; she liked to curl up next to me. But when she’d decide to wake up and play, she was looking for a play buddy. She’d run around the room, even nipping my arm lightly to get my attention. My solution was simple: she got locked out of the room."
How did that work? Well, his solution takes time, patience and determination. "She would cry and scratch at the door, but I wouldn’t give in. Eventually she would do it less and less, and now, she hardly does it at all."
James says it took him almost two weeks, lots of valerian and ear plugs to make it through, but it worked. Now he gets to have Tigra with him and a decent night’s sleep.
Then there's Vanessa. Her cat would always wake her at 5 o'clock in the morning; something she found was giving her dark circles under the eyes and making her less efficient at work. "Max always woke me wanting to be fed," Vanessa said. "So I simply started making sure he got his evening meal around 10 p.m., rather than at 6, as I had always done. Now I’m able to rest at night, and Max is no longer begging for food at some ungodly hour."
So if your cat is keeping you up at night, take heart from these stories. It might take a little trial and error, but you should be able to find the right solution to combat your cat’s behavior. Whether it’s play, a change in dinnertime, a companion, training or even a little catnip, we know your answer is there, just around the proverbial corner.
Have you been following the news out of West Africa? The spread of the Ebola virus there is truly heartbreaking. While residents of the U.S. have little to fear from Ebola (unless you’re planning to travel to that part of the world), researchers here are still working hard to come up with new, potential therapies. You might be surprised to hear, however, that some of the most ground-breaking work is being done at the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary school.
Dr. Ronald Harty is an associate professor of microbiology at Penn Vet, and in conjunction with other scientists from Penn Vet, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, Thomas Jefferson University, and Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, he is developing potential drugs that could revolutionize the way that Ebola and other viruses affecting people and animals are treated.
I recently talked to Dr. Harty to learn more about his work. When asked why research into Ebola was being undertaken at a veterinary school, he replied:
"I’m not a veterinarian, but I’m here at the vet school doing basic research working primarily on Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers. But, we also do a lot of work on vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and rabies virus [both of which are significant animal pathogens]. VSV is actually a sort of distant cousin to Ebola. The makeup of the viruses — how they bud [exit the cell] and replicate, their genomes, the proteins they make — are very similar. VSV has served as a wonderful model system. It’s a virus we can fairly easily work with, using it as a surrogate to understand budding in the more pathogenic Ebola virus."
One of the big problems in developing anti-viral drugs, particularly those that are useful against RNA viruses like Ebola, VSV, rabies, influenza, West Nile virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline leukemia virus (FELV), is that when these organisms replicate, they can mutate very rapidly and develop resistance to drugs. Dr. Harty explained that his team’s approach is innovative in that they are trying to develop drugs that are “host oriented.”
"We are trying to target a virus-host interaction with our compounds. What we and others have found is that viruses like Ebola, rabies, and VSV hijack or recruit host proteins that help the virus to bud. The virus actually steals the function of these host proteins and uses it for its own purpose. We hypothesize that if we can target that virus-host interaction, we can block or slow down budding. We predict that the virus would not be able to mutate as readily to get around an inhibitor that is targeting, at least in part, a host function in comparison to one that just targets a specific viral protein.
"The step that we are targeting is the very last step in budding, so the viruses are on the surface of the host cell. They can’t quite break free but are where the immune system can react to that pathogen.
"[Budding] is analogous to having a car thief trying to speed away from a robbery. The drug would act like spike strips put down in front of that car; it would slow the infection down. We hope that will allow the immune system more time to develop a response, like the spike strips allow the police officer to catch up to the thief and arrest him.
"The other really exciting part of the development of these compounds is they potentially have a very broad spectrum range of activity because many of these RNA viruses bud from cells using a similar mechanism. They all hijack the same host pathways. So what we and others have found is that if we can block budding of Ebola virus, for example, that same compound can block budding of other viruses like rabies, VSV, Marburg virus or even HIV. There is the potential to have a drug that could be effective against many different families of RNA viruses."
Dr. Harty’s work reveals the deep connections between animal and human health. Hopefully, the compounds he and his team are developing eventually will benefit us all.
The PAW Blog...
For the LOVE of Pets
The goal of this blog is to help educate pet owners by sharing pet health facts and pet news articles...and ... sometimes put a smile on your face with a cute or funny pet story!
Search for any topic...