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Vomiting in Cats

This Vomiting in Cats Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Vomiting in Cats

At one time or another your cat may have about of vomiting. Usually he’ll have eaten something disagreeable, eaten too much or too fast, played too soon after eating or any number of non-serious conditions. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem. Or it may be a sign of something very serious. Vomiting (emesis) is the act of expelling contents from the stomach through the mouth. It’s a reflex act, involving a triggering stimulus (such as inflammation of the stomach), the central nervous system and abdominal muscles that work together to expel the contents from the stomach. There are multiple causes of vomiting. An occasional, infrequent isolated episode of vomiting is usually normal. Vomiting is a symptom that can be caused by disorders of the gastrointestinal system (stomach and/or intestines) or it can be secondary to a disease from a different system (such as from cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, or infectious diseases). This can make the diagnosis of the cause of the vomiting a challenge. Vomiting can be defined as acute (sudden onset) or chronic (longer duration of one to two weeks). The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine the recommendation of specific diagnostic tests. Important considerations include monitoring the duration and frequency of the vomiting. If your pet vomits once then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement and is acting playful, then the problem may resolve on its own. If the vomiting continues after your pet eats or if your pet acts lethargic, or doesn’t want to eat, then medical attention is warranted. What To Watch For Dehydration – persistent vomiting leading to dehydration Abnormal behavior or physical abnormalities associated with prolonged vomiting – the presence of lethargy (reluctance to move), diarrhea, weight loss, blood in the vomit, or other physical abnormalities Diagnosis Optimal therapy of any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. There are numerous potential causes of vomiting and before any treatment can be recommended, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Initial therapy should be aimed at the underlying cause. Tests may include: Complete medical history and physical examination, including abdominal palpation. Medical history will most likely include questions regarding the following: vaccination history; diet; appetite; general health; character of vomitus (frequency, progression, presence of blood duration of vomiting); weight loss; past medical problems; medication history and presence of other gastrointestinal signs (such as diarrhea). Your veterinarian may recommend a number of laboratory tests. These can include a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemical panel, and a urinalysis. Fecal examination (to determine presence of parasites or blood). Plain radiography (X-rays) or contrast X-rays (X-rays performed with a contrast material such as barium or aqueous iodine), can help to...

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Dealing with Cats that Won’t Eat

This Dealing with Cats that Won’t Eat Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Dealing with Cats that Won’t Eat

  Anorexia is a term used to describe the situation where an animal loses his appetite and does not want to eat or is unable to eat. Appetite is psychological, dependent on memory and association, as compared with hunger, which is physiologically aroused by the body’s need for food. There are many causes of anorexia in cats. Often, a loss of appetite is the first indication of illness. Diseases of the digestive system (esophagus, stomach, intestine, liver, pancreas), the kidneys, the blood, the eyes, mouth, nose, and throat, the skin, the brain, and many other organs in the body can cause a loss of appetite. Pain of any cause can also make a cat less willing to eat. Alternatively, cats will occasionally refuse food for reasons that are much less serious, such as dislike for a new food, or behavioral reasons (new home, new animal or new person in household, etc.) Regardless of cause, loss of appetite can have a serious impact on your cat’s health if it lasts 24 hours or more. Very young animals (less than 6 months of age) are particularly prone to the problems brought on by loss of appetite. Diagnosis Because of the numerous causes of anorexia, your veterinarian will recommend certain procedures to pinpoint the underlying problem. These may include: Physical examination including buccal exam (looking at the gums), auscultation (listening with a stethoscope), abdominal palpation (feeling the size and shape of the organs in the belly), and taking the temperature and weight Complete blood panel and urinalysis (urine test), to screen for certain diseases of the internal organs X-rays of the chest and the abdomen Fecal examination (microscopic evaluation of the stool to look for parasites) Additional tests, depending on initial test results Treatment Treatments are of two kinds: “specific” and “supportive.” “Specific” treatments are those that deal with the underlying cause. That is, they either slow down or eliminate the problem that caused the loss of appetite in the first place. Examples of specific treatments that reverse loss of appetite include giving antibiotics to eliminate a severe bacterial infection, surgically removing a foreign object that was blocking the intestine, treating dental disease that made chewing painful, and so on. “Supportive” treatments are those that help sustain a cat that is debilitated as a result of not eating. Examples include fluid therapy such as intravenous fluids (“IV”) or subcutaneous fluids (injections of fluid given under the skin), hand feeding or coaxing to eat, appetite-stimulating drugs, and others. Supportive treatments do not reverse the problem that led to the loss of appetite. They simply help “carry” the animal through the most difficult part of the illness. Home Care Home care is concerned with observing your cat for possible reasons for his anorexia and...

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Itchiness in Cats

This Itchiness in Cats Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Itchiness in Cats

Pruritus or itching is an unpleasant sensation that causes a cat to scratch or bite at himself. It is caused by chemical reactions that occur in the skin and stimulate the nerves, causing the brain to feel the itch. In fact, the act of scratching itself may stimulate these inflammatory reactions in the skin and make the condition worse. Any skin condition that causes inflammation can cause pruritus. How pruritis affects your cat’s health depends on the degree of the pruritus. Mild pruritus may hardly have any effect at all. However, severe pruritis leads to intense scratching, which may result in painful skin lesions that may become infected. Every cat has a threshold of pruritis or an “itch threshold.” This is the point where all of the sources of itching finally add up to enough irritation to cause the irresistible urge to scratch. Scratching begins when the stimulation exceeds that threshold. For example, a cat with a mild allergy to house dust mites may be below the threshold but may begin to scratch severely when he becomes infested with fleas. Pruritus is associated with other skin diseases, including secondary bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) and secondary yeast infections. But it is the main symptom of skin conditions like allergies and skin parasites. What To Watch For Scratching or biting. If this continues beyond one day and leads to lesions such as hair loss, reddening of the skin and obvious pain or discomfort, have your cat evaluated by your veterinarian. Chronic licking of the feet. This is also a symptom of pruritus. In cats, pruritus may be subtler and may present as excessive grooming. You may see thinning of the hair coat where the cat is licking or raised, crusty lesions (miliary dermatitis). Diagnosis Diagnostic tests may be needed to determine the cause of the pruritus. Your veterinarian will probably do the following:   A complete and thorough medical history   A thorough physical examination   Skin scrapings to rule out mange mites and other parasites   Fungal cultures of hair to rule out dermatophytes (ringworm) Treatment The key to relief from pruritus is to identify and treat the underlying cause. Pruritus may be temporarily relieved with medication but the itching often recurs after the medication is finished. Temporary relief may come from the following:   Antihistamines   Fatty acid supplements   Soothing shampoos   Corticosteroids Home Care At home your care will be aimed at preventing pruritis by keeping your cat’s coat clean and brushed free of mats. Consult with your veterinarian to establish a complete flea control program. If your cat is being treated for pruritis, administer all prescribed medication and follow all your veterinarian’s instructions. Related Diseases Many skin diseases can cause or can contribute to pruritus. Every...

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Fever in Cats

This Fever in Cats Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Fever in Cats

A fever is defined as abnormally high body temperature resulting from internal controls. It is believed that fever is a method of fighting infection. The body resets the temperature control area of the brain to increase the body temperature – probably in response to invasion of foreign matter such as bacteria or viruses. Since many invaders do not thrive in hot environments, by increasing the temperature of the body, these invaders can be destroyed. This is different from hyperthermia, which is an increase in body temperature due to external influences such as hot weather, inability to pant or sweat. The brain does not intend for the body temperature to increase. Fever is usually differentiated from hyperthermia based on the animal’s recent environment, for example if he was in a hot car, as well as the animal’s response to the increased temperature. Animals that pant excessively and have increased heart and respiratory rates are typically victims of overheating (hyperthermia). Fever animals do not exhibit significant distress. The normal temperature in dogs is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Causes of Fever   Infection   Inflammation   Cancer   Drug related   Immune system disease   Idiopathic – cause not determined. This is also referred to as fever of unknown origin. What to Watch For   Lethargy   Behavior changes such as “crankiness”   Not eating or drinking   Hiding   Swellings or lumps (abscesses or tumors)   Draining wounds Diagnosis Fever is easily diagnosed based on a rectal temperature. A body temperature over 103F is considered a fever. Diagnosing the underlying cause of the fever, which is usually related to an infection, can be challenging. Sometimes, history and physical exam findings can indicate the cause of the fever or source of infection. Unfortunately, diagnosis may require various tests if the cause is not easily determined. Some recommended tests may include: CBC – complete blood count or hemogram. This will determine white blood cell count, red blood cell count and platelets. Many animals with fever have an elevated white blood cell count Chemistry profile to help determine the overall health of the animal and to detect any organ impairment Blood smear to detect blood parasites Serologic testing for uncommon sources of fever such as tick transmitted diseases Blood evaluation for immune system diseases Feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus testing Urinalysis to detect a urinary tract infection X-rays to determine if there are any internal masses, pneumonia or other abnormalities that may lead to a fever Abdominal and/or cardiac ultrasound to detect a source of infection such as liver, kidney, heart valves Exploratory surgery with various organ biopsies in prolonged fever cases without diagnosis Treatment Treatment for a fever is based on the underlying diagnosis and severity of the fever. Some mild...

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Separation Anxiety in Cats

This Separation Anxiety in Cats Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Separation Anxiety in Cats

  Separation anxiety can affect cats. Massive publicity about a new pharmacological medication treatment for separation anxiety in dogs (Clomicalm, Novartis Animal Health) has clued most pet owners in to the existence and nature of separation anxiety in that species. In addition, many parents have heard of separation anxiety that affects some sensitive children going to school for the first time. But what most people don’t know is that separation anxiety can affect cats, too. Cats with separation anxiety don’t howl and bay like dogs and they don’t chew on doors and windowsills in frantic attempts to escape. Their misery is far less obvious and it sometimes takes a sleuth of an owner to appreciate what is going on. Separation anxiety in any species implies a lack of confidence and an over-dependence on others.  It is likely that genetic factors play a role in increasing susceptibility to separation anxiety though environmental factors are ultimately responsible for its expression. Genetic factors include emotional sensitivity and a predisposition toward anxiety. Certain oriental breeds, such as Siamese and Burmese, may be more prone to develop separation anxiety than cats with more robust temperaments, like Maine coons. Environmental factors often involve improper bonding experiences when cats are young. Orphaned kittens, early-weaned kittens, and pet store bought kittens are probably at the greatest risk of developing this stressful condition. Combine the sensitive personality with inappropriate early lifetime experiences and you have a recipe for disaster of this kind. Signs of feline separation anxiety Over-attachment to the owner, following that person from room to room around the house. Distress as the owner prepares to depart (so-called pre-departure anxiety). This can take many forms but some of the more common presentations are meowing, sulking, apparent depression, slinking away, and hiding. Vocalization (crying, moaning, meowing) right after the owner has left (you might need to set a tape recorder to check this sign). Anorexia – the affected cat is often too anxious to eat when left alone. Inappropriate elimination – often in the form of urine marking, though fecal marking may also sometimes occur. Deposits of urine or feces are often near to the door from which the owner has departed or are on that person’s clothing, bed sheets, or other personal effects. Vomiting – only in the owner’s absence. Excessive self-grooming. This starts as a displacement behavior but can progress to compulsive self-grooming, if unchecked. In the latter scenario, excessive self-grooming no longer occurs only when the owner is away but will also be expressed during the owner’s presence. Destructive behavior – rare, but some cats may claw and scratch door edges presumably in an attempt to escape from their solitary confinement. Exuberant greeting behavior – as if greeting a long lost friend that they did...

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Bringing a New Cat Into the Home

This Bringing a New Cat Into the Home Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Bringing a New Cat Into the Home

  Cats are a bit like people when it comes to friendships. Cats living in a group have “preferred associates” (“friends,” if you will), and other cats from which they actively distance themselves (definitely not preferred). Why would this be, you might ask? Background probably plays some role. Many species, including cats, learn a lot about their inter- and extra-species relationships during the so-called “sensitive period” of their development. For cats, this is between 2 and 7 weeks of age. Pleasurable exposure to whomever or whatever during this period can lead to lifelong acceptance. The corollary to this is also true: Unpleasant experiences in early kittenhood can lead to lifelong mistrust or even hatred. Perhaps some of cats’ preferences are imbued during the critical period. Extreme examples of how this works are provided by reference to the feral and orphan cat situations. Feral cats that have not been exposed to people during the first 7 weeks of their life will never be entirely comfortable around people. Hand-raised orphan cats that have not had a chance to interact with their own species will likely never be at ease with their kind and instead often become “over-attached’ to their human caregivers. Which other felines a cat will tolerate is also likely shaped by early learning, or lack thereof. This is not to say that social learning cannot occur later, as well. One really bad experience down the road of life can also have profound and long-lasting negative effects on a cat’s perception of others, and such fears can generalize. Other reasons why cats may not get along include dominance, sexuality, and territoriality. As with humans, such factors seem to make the cat’s world go round and are so important to some individuals as to border on obsession. A cat that is extremely attached to his owner may not appreciate having to share this valued resource with a new cat, a total stranger. Certainly, a red-blooded male will not appreciate sharing his quarters with another of the same persuasion (thank heavens for neutering). Finally, a despotic leader cat that has his house in order will often not appreciate the addition of another cat, especially if the newcomer isn’t fully respectful of the laws that he (or she) has layed down. When cats are brought together under the same roof they often squabble for a while. This squabbling often takes the form of a few hisses, one cat charging the other, or a few well-directed swats. Spats of aggression are likely before (hopefully) peace breaks out. It has been shown that the frequency of minor spats of aggression tends to decline over 4 months until it reaches baseline. However, peace is not a guaranteed outcome, even with careful engineering of cats’ exposure to...

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