Abbeywood Cat Hospital Newsletter

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Introduction

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!





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.

Safe Garden for your Pets

Can I have your attention?

With the summer months ahead, many of us have gardening on the mind. But your green thumb doesn’t have to come at Fido’s expense. Here are some tips to ensure that your garden is kept pet-friendly this summer:

  1. Avoid sweet-smelling mulch: parasites tend to thrive in mulch, and sweet-smelling cocoa mulch contains toxic ingredients if ingested by dogs and cats.
  2. Use nontoxic plants and fertilizers: Look over the ASPCA’s list of toxic and nontoxic plants in order to determine whether your plants are hazardous to Fido’s health (such as the popular azaleas, Easter lilies and rhododendron). This also applies to fertilizers and any pesticides you may use.
  3. Watch out for freshly watered lawn: Try not to let your pet walk on your lawn or garden areas after watering it. Chemicals you have applied can stick to your pet’s paws, which they may proceed to lick and ingest.
  4. Arm against fleas, ticks and heartworm:  Summer brings in the bugs, so make sure to take preventive measures against fleas, ticks and heartworm. Visit your local veterinarians for suggestions and treatments.
  5. Watch for Allergies: With all the summer pollen in the air, watch for signs that your pets may be struggling right along with you. After taking your daily walks, wipe your animal’s paws down with a towel in order to keep any unwanted pollen out of the house.

With summer fun comes summer struggles. But with these few easy tips in mind, it may make it a whole lot easier – and healthier – for both you and your pet.

10 Fun Facts About Cats

Ten Fun Facts About Cats

  1. Cats "paw" or "knead" to mark their territory. Cats sweat through the bottom of their paws and rub off the sweat as a marking mechanism.
  2. Cat urine glows in the dark when a black light shines on it. If you think your cat or kitten has had an accident in your home, use a black light to find the mishap.
  3. If your cat is near you, and her tail is quivering, this is the greatest expression of love your cat can give you, but if your cat is thrashing its tail, she is in a bad mood, so keep your distance!
  4. During her productive life, one female cat could have more than 100 kittens. A single pair of cats and their kittens can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just seven years.
  5. Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat door.
  6. Cats spend 30 percent of their waking hours grooming themselves.
  7. Ancient Egyptians shaved their eyebrows in mourning when their cats died. And if someone killed a cat, he or she could get the death penalty.
  8. According to the Guinness Book of World records, the oldest cat was Crème Puff from Austin, Texas who died in 2005 at 38 years old.
  9. When cats are happy, they may squeeze their eyes shut.
  10. The reason for the lack of mouse-flavored cat food is due to the fact that the cat test subjects did not like it.
Cats and Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition caused by a relative resistance to or deficiency of insulin which results in elevated blood glucose levels and glucose in the urine. Diabetes mellitus is most common in older cats; however, obese cats are at an increased risk of developing this condition. Evidence has shown that genetics may play a role in the development of diabetes in cats. In particular, the Burmese breed has been identified as being predisposed to diabetes, and analysis of pedigrees has suggested that this is an inherited trait.

Insulin is produced by the pancreas and is released into the bloodstream where it travels to all the tissues of the body. Its main role is to enable cells to take up glucose (sugar) which is needed as an energy source. In diabetes, there is a relative or absolute deficiency of insulin. An absolute insulin deficiency may arise as a direct failure of the pancreas to produce this hormone. In most diabetic cats, there is both an absolute insulin deficiency and a situation whereby cells of the body fail to respond effectively to the insulin produced. This results in a decreased amount of glucose taken up by the cells and an increase of glucose in the blood (called hyperglycemia). As the cells are starved of glucose, the body begins to break down stored fats and proteins for sources of energy. This process results in weight loss and the accumulation of toxic waste products, which can cause a diabetic crisis known as ketoacidosis.

The symptoms of diabetes may be severe or mild. Due to the increased amount of glucose in the blood, it is excreted into the urine. Glucose that is passed into the urine takes water with it, so an increased volume of urine is produced. To compensate for the water lost into the urine, diabetic cats develop an increased thirst. Weight loss and an increased appetite are also frequently seen.




The cat owner often reports one or several of the following symptoms:

• Weight loss

• Increased appetite

• Increased urination

• Increased water consumption

These signs are not always present or may pass unnoticed. If a cat spends most of his or her time outdoors, the increased thirst and increased urination may not be noticed by the owner.

There are other clinical signs that may be observed. These include:

• Straining to pass urine or passing bloody urine (associated with a urinary tract infection)

• Poor coat

• Cataracts and retinal abnormalities causing vision problems

• Weakness in hind legs or dropped hocks

Some cats develop ketoacidosis, a complication in uncontrolled diabetes. In this situation, the cat may become extremely depressed, with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, complete loss of appetite, dehydration, collapse and coma. If any of these signs are seen in a diabetic cat, it is an emergency condition and he or she should be taken to a veterinary hospital immediately.

Diabetes mellitus is usually a treatable condition, but requires considerable dedication and commitment from the cat’s owner. Owners of a diabetic cat need to be aware that a strict routine must be followed. The timing of insulin injections is important; however, they can be altered to suit the lifestyle of the owner. Once the insulin injections have begun, they need to be given at regular intervals. Knowledge on correct insulin storage, handling and administration is also required. The dose of insulin given should never be changed without consulting your veterinarian. One of the most common reasons for poor stabilization at home is problems with insulin storage and/or administration.

Compromise With Your Cat on Scratching

The claws are the primary weapon in the feline arsenal. In addition to providing an iron grip for climbing, a cat's claws can be lethal—quickly un-holstered to slash at an enemy or rip open a soft underbelly. Although the claws are often described as retractable, a cat's claws are, in fact, hidden until the paw is extended. Safely sheathed when the cat is relaxed, even while it is walking, the claws remain sharp and ready for action. During a post-nap stretch or an angry swipe, the tendons controlling the claws are pulled taut, thrusting the nails outward.

Though seemingly incorrigible scratchers, cats rake their claws over rough surfaces to both clean and hone them. The raking motion also helps shed the claws' dead and dulled outer layers, and helps exercise the leg muscles. Just as importantly, scratching allows the cat to leave its calling card—a territory marking scent released from the paw pads.

So now that you know the biology behind it and that scratching is a natural behavior for cats, how are you going to convince your cat that your sofa is nicer UN-shredded? Start off on the right foot (or paw) with universal advice from Mark Twain, "Never try to teach a pig how to sing; it frustrates you and annoys the pig." Keep in mind that cats like to scratch and generally need to scratch, so you are never going to be able to stop the behavior completely. Your job as protector of your furniture is to re-direct your cat's scratching to an area that is acceptable to both of you.


Three Cat-Scratching Compromises

• A scratching post - Cats like rough surfaces that they can shred to pieces. The scratching post with the most aesthetic appeal to your cat is often a tree stump, though this can be a bit unwieldy. Whatever you and your cat choose, it has to be tall enough for her to fully extend her body, and most importantly, secure enough to withstand the push and pull of her claws. If it topples over right from the start, chances are your cat will not go back to it. A sisal post or a carpet remnant (make sure it's secured) are always good choices.

If your cat is reluctant to give up her old scratching areas, you may have to employ discouraging tactics. Using lemon-scented sprays or potpourri of lemon and orange peels on or near her old haunts may work. Cats have a natural aversion to citrus smells. If this doesn't work, try squirting her with a water gun or spray bottle or blowing a whistle or other noise maker every time you catch her scratching. You must use these deterrents while she is scratching, in order for them to be effective.



• Trimming its nails or applying protective guards - Though trimming your cat's nails may defray some of your cat's potential for destruction, it does not stop her from scratching. By keeping them short, it makes them less sharp. The longer they get, the sharper they become as a result of scratching. If you are unable to trim your cat's nails by yourself, many groomers or veterinarians provide the service at a minimal cost. Even if your cat uses a scratching post regularly, it is wise to keep her nails trim to help her avoid getting stuck to the carpet or your sweater while the both of your are snuggling.

Soft Paws are another great option. These are lightweight vinyl caps that are applied over your cat's own claws. They have rounded edges so your cat's scratching doesn't damage your home and furnishings. They last for approximately six weeks or however long it takes for your cat's nails to grow out of them. They are generally applied only to the front paws since those are the most destructive of the four. Soft Paws come in a kit and are easy to apply using the cap and adhesive. If you find it difficult to apply them to your cat, at least initially, your veterinarian or groomer may be able to do it for you for a nominal fee.

• Declawing - A surgical procedure, de-clawing involves the total removal of your cat's nails. It is a non-reversible procedure, but is extremely effective in protecting your furniture. Though an effective option, it is not recommended for cats that go outside regularly as they lose their ability to defend themselves with their claws. Since it is a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss the procedure.


Ultimately, your cat chooses her favorite place to scratch. However, it is up to you to give her suggestions and persuade her to use an area you have chosen. Training your cat to do what you want takes a lot of patience. Remember to reinforce good and wanted behavior and deter unwanted behavior. Once you and your cat have found a suitable solution, your house and furniture are going to thank you for your perseverance.