Abbeywood Cat Hospital Newsletter

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The veterinarians and staff at Abbeywood Cat Hospital are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter of pet-related articles and news stories.

This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine. Get started by browsing the Current Newsletter Topics links that pertain to each article.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Take Your Dog to Work Day is Friday, June 23

Take Your Dog to Work Day

Initially celebrated in 1999, Pet Sitters International's Take Your Dog To Work Day® (TYDTWDay®) was created for two reasons: first, to celebrate dogs’ innate virtues of loyalty, love and dedication to their human companions, and second, to encourage canine adoption from rescue shelters, humane societies and breed rescue clubs. This year, the annual event occurs on Friday, June 23 and employers are encouraged to support TYDTWDay by opening their workplace to employees’ canine friends. Participation will create an immediate “feel good” workplace environment and allow your staff to meet each other's special family members.

Looking for additional ways to celebrate and support this popular day?

- Solicit photos and designate a bulletin board for a “Dog/Owner Look-Alike Contest”
- Host a Pet Fair. Provide ASPCA or shelter materials and client educational materials regarding dog adoption, preventive care, training, diets, etc.
- Award a “Top Dog” honor, which employee’s dog can do the best trick, has the cutest face or the most endearing personality?

So don’t let sleeping dogs lie. Win over your employees and your clients by participating in this fun annual event and watch as wagging tails spread office joy.

Clipping Your Pet's Nails

Pet owners vary in their level of comfort in clipping the nails of their dog, cat, rabbit or bird. But it is necessary to regularly clip nails to help maintain health and comfort. Nails which are uncared for can break or tear, and can affect the animal's ability to move about comfortably or cause the animal to injure itself when scratching. If you are uncomfortable clipping the animal's nails yourself, your vet or groomer can do this for you.

If you decide to do it yourself, here are a few tips:

• Remember, the nail is living tissue. Do not clip too close to the quick. If this occurs, the animal will experience pain and the nail will bleed.

• There are two types of nail clippers available: the scissor type (which resembles a traditional scissors) or the guillotine type (which surrounds the whole nail). Both are effective. Choose the one that is most comfortable for you and your pet.

• Many animals resist nail clipping. One way to get them accustomed to it is to handle their paws or feet from a very early age.

• Maintain your pet's nail clippers so that they're sharp. A dull blade and crush and fracture the nail, which is painful for your pet.

Health Benefits of Pet Ownership for the Elderly

The link between good health and having pets in the home has been well established by multiple studies and is noted on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, among other places. Additionally, these health benefits are not just limited to families with children.

The CDC and numerous studies conducted by a wide range of organizations have shown multiple physical and mental health benefits for the elderly who keep companion pets. For example, PAWSitive Interaction, a nonprofit group dedicated to better understanding the positive impact of the human/animal bond, produced a white paper titled Pets and The Aging: Science Supports the Human/Animal Bond. The paper brings together experts in this field as well as scientific research to more fully explain the benefits to the elderly of pet ownership.

Health benefits include:

• Lower Blood Pressure – Studies have shown that when pet ownership is combined with medication, blood pressure is more easily controlled than in populations that use medication alone.

• Reduced Depression – Simply spending time with a pet dramatically increased production of hormones in the body that regulate well-being and happiness. Production of hormones that are related to stress and anxiety decreased as dramatically.

• Decreased Loneliness – It is common for the elderly to be and feel isolated from the rest of the world. However, having a pet and taking care of it provide reasons for a person to become more engaged with life. They get out for walks more and come into contact with a wider range of people. This in turn acts as a social catalyst between peers and others. A pet also is a companion and provides a sense of responsibility and well-being.

• Increased Heart Attack Survival – One study showed that heart attack survivors who have a pet are four times more likely to live another year or longer.

• Improved Alzheimer's – A Purdue University study found that the presence of aquarium fish has a calming effect and increased appetites at meal time.

Other studies have shown:

Improved Personal Care – Pets act as something of a personal alarm clock to remind the person to care for him or herself in terms of hygiene as well as reminders when to eat (e.g. feed the pet at the same time as dinner).

Regular Exercise – Taking care of a pet, especially a dog that needs to be walked or an animal that responds to play can help seniors get out for regular exercise through walking. This also provides an opportunity to interact with other pet owners as well as neighbors and friends.

Touch – People respond positively to and need regular touch. A pet such as a cat curled up in a lap or dog lying nearby can be very reassuring and relaxing to an older person as well as provide a sense of security.

We could go on, but the bottom line is that a companion pet—whether a bird, cat, dog and so on—can be as much a source of good health and vitality for the elderly as it would provide love and companionship.

June is Adopt-A-Cat Month - Here's How to Find the Right Purring Companion

You may have heard the saying, "You own a dog, but you feed a cat." It is true that cats value their independence a bit more than their canine counterparts. But, if you've ever been around cats, you already know they crave and require love and companionship. Cats make wonderful pets and most easily adjust to a variety of lifestyles and living spaces. Every cat is a true individual though, so it's important to take the time to choose a four-footed friend who's right for you. A cat's personality, age and appearance, as well as the kinds of pets you already have at home, are all things you should keep in mind when making your selection.

If you've ever been to a shelter, you have probably noticed that some cats meow and head butt the cage door while others simply lie back and gaze at you with a look of total ambiguity. There are as many different personalities of cats as there are cats in the shelter. Which disposition is best for you? YOU have to decide.

Regardless of individual personality, look for a cat that is playful, active, alert and comfortable while being held. At the shelter, ask an adoption counselor for assistance when you wish to spend some time with individual cats. Because they are in an unfamiliar environment, some cats that are usually quite social may be frightened or passive while in the shelter.

As a general rule, kittens are curious, playful and full of energy, while adult cats are more relaxed and less mischievous. Kittens also require more time to train and feed. Cats are only kittens for a few months, though, so the age of the cat you adopt should really depend on the level of maturity you are looking for. Young children usually don't have the maturity to handle kittens responsibly, so a cat that is at least 4 months old is probably the best choice for homes with young children.

They All May Be Cute, But Which Is Right For You?

Though dogs also have differences in coat, choosing the length of coat on a cat is a little different. Because the hair is generally finer and cats generally shed more, hair length can be an important part of your decision. Cats can have long, fluffy coats or short, dense fur and the choice between the two is chiefly a matter of preference, availability and your willingness to devote time to regular grooming. Short-haired cats are generally easier to come by since they're the most popular and the most common. Keep in mind that long-haired cats require frequent grooming to remain mat-free. Felines with short coats also require brushing, though less frequently. Most cats enjoy a regular brushing and look forward to this daily ritual.

If you already own a cat or dog, you're probably wondering how easy it is to add a cat to the family. The good news is that cats can get along with other cats, and despite the common stereotype, most dogs can get along with cats too. Unfortunately, introducing a new cat to a home with other pets can be time consuming and require patience on your part.

The best way to handle adding a new cat to the home is to provide time for a period of adjustment. You can do this effectively by isolating your new feline in a room of his own for a while, something that is a good idea for a new cat anyway. After several days, supervise meetings between the animals for periods of increasing length. Most cats will soon learn to accept each other. Some dogs simply won't tolerate the presence of a cat, but by carefully introducing them, most problems can be solved.

No matter which kind of cat you choose, remember that you're making a commitment to love and care for your new feline friend for his or her lifetime. That could mean 10, 15 or even 20 years. So choose you new companion carefully and be a responsible pet owner. In no time at all, you'll know how wonderful sharing your home with a cat can be.

For more information about Adopt-A-Cat month, please visit the American Humane Association's website.

All About Your Cat's Teeth

During its lifetime, a cat has two sets of teeth, a deciduous set and a permanent set. Kittens have 26 deciduous teeth (molars are absent); adult cats have a total of 30 teeth.

Deciduous or "milk teeth", begin to appear when the kitten is about 4 weeks of age. At 6 weeks of age, all 26 deciduous teeth are present. From 11 to 30 weeks of age, kittens lose their deciduous teeth. During this time they may eat less due to sore gums.

When the deciduous teeth fall out, they are replaced by 30 permanent teeth. The permanent teeth should be in place by about 6 months of age.

A cat’s teeth are well-suited to rip and cut. Twelve tiny teeth (incisors) in the front of the mouth - six in the upper jaw, six in the lower jaw - do some scraping. They are flanked by two upper and lower canines, sometimes described as "fangs," designed to hold prey and to tear flesh. Ten sharp premolars and four molars act together to cut food.

A cat occasionally retains a deciduous tooth after the permanent tooth appears. This deciduous tooth should be removed as soon as possible to avoid displacing the permanent tooth.

Extra teeth are occasionally found in cats. They should be removed by a veterinarian if they cause crowding or injury to soft tissue or other teeth.

Cat Behavior and What It Means

Domestic cats are descendants of the African wildcat, and many of the characteristic behaviors of these ancestors are still exhibited by cats today. An understanding of the origin and purpose of such behaviors can help cat owners appreciate their feline companions more fully and lead to an enhanced human-animal relationship.

Social Behavior

Once thought to be a social animals, it is now recognized that domestic cats can form complex social groupings. Studies have repeatedly shown that they form territories or ranges in which they live and defend these from intruders. In stable situations, cat territories can overlap without overt antagonistic interactions.


The cat has three primary methods of communication: vocal, visual and olfactory. Vocal communication involves a variety of sounds that convey different messages. Visual communication involves the body posture and facial expressions. For example, the position of the ears, hair and tail can offer important information about the emotional state of the cat. Olfactory communication plays a very important role in communication. The deposition of scents via facial marking, anal secretions and urine marking is an important communication tool for the feline.

Sexual Behavior

Female cats are seasonally polyestrus, with peaks in the Northern Hemisphere occurring from January to March and again from May to June. If they are not bred, estrus will last about 10 days and the female will cycle every three weeks for several months. During estrus, the female will engage in increased activity, vocalizations and marking with urine and other glandular secretions. Crouching with rear end elevated and rolling are common body postures that a female may exhibit during estrus.

Eating Behavior

In the wild, the cat developed as a solitary hunter that targeted various small prey. This led to an eating pattern of multiple small meals with considerable variety in the diet. Many domesticated cats continue this pattern and exhibit a preference for a variety of foods.

Bathroom Behavior

Kittens start to eliminate independently at about 4 weeks of age. They instinctively prefer to eliminate in fine particulate material with good drainage. Most cats will investigate a potential spot, dig a hole and pass urine or feces in the squatting position. Cats usually will then cover the elimination.

Sleeping Patterns

Although cats have traditionally been described as nocturnal creatures, they are actually crepuscular by nature, which means that they are more active in the twilight and evening hours. The average adult cat spends 10 hours per day sleeping and an additional five hours resting.

Gourmet Pet Food Market Takes Off

Can I have your attention?

As more people turn healthier eating habits, so do their pets. Take into a account that over half of American households own a pet, this creates a huge market prime for a gourmet pet food takeover.

Gourmet dog food typically contains certain key ingredients, such as potatoes, fiber and bananas, which work as natural preservatives. But of course, chemical-free, natural products come at a cost. Just as people spend more on their own healthy meals, this is also the case for Fido’s dinner. However, many pet owners are experiencing benefits that justify the more costly natural alternatives, such as improvements in their animal’s health and coat.

Although natural pet food is on the rise, choosing the pricier gourmet or natural products is still far from the norm. All-natural dog food is estimated to represent approximately 10 percent of the $19 billion pet food industry, and 5 percent are chef-inspired pet foods. A smaller portion is claimed by human-grade pet food, which is good enough for both the dog dish and the table. Honest Kitchen is the biggest pet food company to claim human-grade status, with a 4-pound box of “Love” (a grain-free, Dehydrated hormone-free beef dish that makes 16 pounds of food) selling at $47.

However, if you’re looking to go natural, human-grade status is not the only way. In fact, many well-established brands, such as Fromm, Merrick and Purina, as well as newcomers like Petropics, Blue Buffalo, Weruva, Petite Cuisine and Stella & Chewy’s, each present various natural or gourmet options for your dog or cat. So go ahead, spoil little Spot, he deserves it!

5 Common Litter Box Mistakes to Avoid

If your cat is like most, he or she probably possesses rigid standards when it comes to its private bathroom quarters. Cleaning needs to be routine, the location needs to be ‘purr-fect,’ and the litter better be up to par. To ensure your cat utilizes its litter box regularly and properly, avoid these five common mistakes:

1. The Wrong Box – Most cats prefer more space rather than barely enough. Your cat should be able to stand and sit to do his or her business without being crowded or hanging over any edges. Sidewalls should be of a height your cat can manage stepping over and a hooded litter box can create a dark, odor-trapped environment your cat may not enjoy.

2. The Wrong Spot – Most cats don’t require a litter box overlooking a stream or active backyard birdfeeder, but the location of their bathroom does matter. The spot should be quiet, private, uninterrupted and not too far away from their regular hangout if there is only one in your large home.

3. The Wrong Litter – Your cat probably won’t hassle you to buy the brand it saw on a television commercial, but they often have preferences when it comes to heavily perfumed litters or those with different textures. Their sensitive noses may be driven away by scents designed to suit human tastes rather than their own.

4. Too Dirty – Felines are cleanly creatures and don’t enjoy reusing dirty litter. Boxes should be scooped at least once daily and cleaned thoroughly at least once a week.

5. Too Few – If you have multiple cats, you should maintain a litter box for each – and maybe even one extra. Some cats will agree to sharing, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Some cats even require two boxes, one for each separate duty.

Becoming familiar with your cat’s or cats’ unique litter box preferences will make for a more adjusted, happy and healthy pet. Should your cat ever begin to start urinating or defecating outside of its litter box for unknown reasons, it could be the result of a behavior or health concern. A consultation with your veterinarian will help quickly rule out one or the other.