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!

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.

Popular Cat Breeds

Cats are becoming the most popular household pets worldwide. There are more than 100 million house cats in the Western world and this figure is increasing. In the U.S., 38 million households have cats and the total number of cats exceeds 90 million. There are many reasons for feline popularity. Cats make affectionate, extremely devoted and low maintenance companions.

There are over a hundred recognized breeds of domestic cats. According to the Cat Fanciers Association, fewer than 3 percent of all owned cats worldwide are pedigreed. Unlike dog breeds, cat breeds are a relatively new concept and many are imports from other countries. Only for the last 20 years have we seen the diversity that makes up most of our cat breeds today.

Below is a list of some of the more common cat breeds of the world.

The Abyssinian is a very active, playful and inquisitive breed. This slender, short-haired breed is distinguished by its ticked tabby coat pattern, which is a pattern more commonly seen in wild cats. Though ruddy is the color most associated with the breed, "Abys" are available in blue, fawn and red (also known as sorrel) as well.

Although the Abyssinian is one of the oldest known breeds, there continues to be speculation and controversy concerning its history. Recent studies by geneticists show that the most convincing origin of the Abyssinian breed is the coast of the Indian Ocean and parts of Southeast Asia.


The American Shorthair was developed from native American working cats. It is a moderately stocky, even-tempered cat with a short coat. Although this breed is available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, the silver classic tabby is perhaps best known.

The American Shorthair is America’s own breed, whose ancestors are the cats that came to North America with the early pioneers from Europe. There are records that indicate several cats arrived on the Mayflower.

American Shorthair

Also known as the "Sacred Cat of Burma", the Birman has a number of fanciful legends associated with its origin. It is a semi-longhaired cat, accepted only in the pointed pattern, but is distinguished from the Balinese and Himalayan not only by its moderately stocky body type, but by its four white feet.

The Birman cat is believed to have originated in Burma, where it was considered the sacred companion cat of the Kittah priests.


The Chartreux is an old natural breed which originated in France. There exists a lovely old legend that the Chartreux lived with, and were named for, the Carthusian monks of France, and perhaps even shared a tipple or two of their famous Chartreuse liqueur.

Known for its woolly blue coat, brilliant orange eyes and smiling expression, it is a sturdy, quiet and sweet-tempered cat.


The Cornish Rex is known for its soft, wavy, curly hair: even the whiskers curl. Its coat feels like crushed velvet to the touch. The original Rex, a cream male named Kallibunker was born in 1950 in Cornwall, England.

Today’s Cornish Rex has a racy, slender body, and is found in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

Cornish Rex

The Korat is a small cat known for its sleek silvery blue coat, heart-shaped face and prominent gooseberry-green eyes. Korats originated in Thailand, where they are regarded as "good luck" cats. They are energetic and affectionate companions.

The earliest known picture of a Korat, or Si-Sawat, cat is to be found in the ancient book of paintings and verses known as The Cat-Book Poems in Bangkok’s National Library. It is believed by the Fine Arts Department, a division of Thailand’s Ministry of Education, to have been produced some time during the Ayudhya Period of Siamese History (1350-1767). The gift of a pair of Si-Sawat cats to a bride ensures a fortunate marriage.


The Maine Coon is known for its large size, easy-going temperament and rugged appearance. This native New England breed is well-adapted to that harsh climate, with a heavy, shaggy coat, bushy tail and tufted ears and toes. Though the brown classic tabby pattern is perhaps the best known, Maine Coons are available in a variety of colors and patterns.

The Maine Coon Cat is the native American longhaired cat and was recognized as a specific breed in Maine where they were held in high regard for their mousing talents. Through nature’s own breeding program, this breed has developed into a sturdy cat ideally suited to the harsh winters and varied seasons of the region.

Maine Coon

The Manx is distinguished by a feature it lacks - a tail. This natural mutation is thought to have originated hundreds of years ago on the Isle of Man, off the coast of England, hence the name Manx. Since many trade ships docked on the Isle, and all had ship cats, it is hard to tell just what the parent cat really was. CFA has recognized the Manx as a breed since the 1920s.

The "Manx gene" produces cats with tails of varying length, from the "longie" (normal tail) to the "stumpy" (short tail) and "rumpy" (no tail). Manx cats are stocky and rounded in appearance, with short backs and long hind legs that make them appear rabbit-like. The thick coat can be either short or semi-long, though in some associations the longhairs are known as Cymrics. Manx are available in a variety of colors and patterns.


The Ocicat looks like a small wild spotted cat, but is in fact a domestic breed created by combining the Siamese, Abyssinian and American Shorthair. "Ocis" are active, affectionate and very social. They are available in various patterns, though only the spotted patterns may be shown and in several different colors.

Feline enthusiasts have always been awed by the spotted cats of the wild: ocelots, margays, leopards and others. Never before was there such an effort to breed an entirely domestic cat that can offer the spotted beauty of the wild cats, while maintaining the lovely, predictable disposition of the domestic cat. With so many wild spotteds disappearing as their native habitats are destroyed and invaded, it is increasingly important that this man-made breed can satisfy people who want something "exotic."


The Persian is perhaps the most widely recognized cat breed. It is certainly the most numerous of all the breeds. The Persian is known for its extremely long, fluffy coat, very stocky body type, round head, large eyes and flat face. Persians have a sweet and gentle temperament, and are among the most placid of all breeds. Buyers are advised that the long, soft coat requires daily grooming.

Persians are available in a myriad of colors and patterns. Persians with the pointed ("Siamese") pattern are sometimes called Himalayans. In Britain, the Persian is known as the Longhair, and the Himalayan is known as the Colorpoint Longhair.


The Scottish Fold is characterized by its distinctive ears, which are folded forward and down, and by its large, rounded eyes, which give it a sweet, wide-eyed expression. They are mellow and affectionate cats. Scottish Folds are found in both longhair and shorthair varieties, in a great number of color and pattern combinations.

In 1961, a shepherd by the name of William Ross spotted the first known Scottish Fold cat at a farm near Coupar Angus in the Tayside Region of Scotland, Northwest of Dundee. The unique thing about this cat was that her ears folded forward and downward on her head. The resulting look gave the impression of a "pixie," "owl," or "teddy bear" that has captured the hearts of many American cat fanciers. Scottish Fold kittens are born with straight ears. At about 3 to 4 weeks of age, their ears fold...or they don’t!

Scottish Fold

The Siamese is distinguished by its brilliant blue eyes and its colored "points" (ears, face, tail and feet), which provide a striking contrast to its light-colored body. It is vocal, demanding, lively and affectionate. Today’s show Siamese display a very long, slender body type and a long, wedge-shaped head with huge ears. Some breeders work with a more moderate, rounded type of Siamese known as the Traditional (Applehead) Siamese.

Siamese were originally recognized in the seal, blue, chocolate and lilac point colors. In some associations, additional colors and patterns are accepted as part of the Siamese breed while other associations call these cats Colorpoint Shorthairs.

Having been nurtured and protected within temple walls for centuries, a fact documented in art and literature, the Siamese became known to the rest of the world through the royal family of Siam. What better gift to present to a visiting dignitary than these beautiful native treasures? This is exactly the way this breed became known outside the borders of what we now call Thailand.


The Tonkinese was produced by crossing the Burmese and Siamese breeds. This playful, people-oriented breed has a moderate body type and a sleek, soft coat and features a unique pattern known as "mink": it is pointed like the Siamese, but the body is colored in a shade harmonizing with the point color and the eyes are aqua in shade. "Tonks" are available in a range of colors intermediate between their Burmese and Siamese parent breeds. In some associations non-mink colors and patterns are also accepted.

Caring for Tonkinese is as easy as feeding a well-balanced feline diet, clipping their nails weekly (providing a scratching post and insisting they use it is also imperative), using a rubber brush to groom them, and of course the all important visit to the vet for check-ups and vaccinations.


The Turkish Van is a semi-longhaired cat distinguished by its unusual pattern: the cat is white except for a colored tail and color on the head. (This is called the "Van" pattern and is seen in other breeds as well.) Turkish Vans are said to be fond of water and swimming.

The cat known in the United States as the Turkish Van is a rare and ancient breed that developed in central and southwest Asia, which today encompasses the countries of Iran, Iraq, southwest Soviet Union and Far Eastern Turkey. They are considered regional treasures in their homeland.

Turkish Van

Letting the Cat Out...Or Not

Thanks to the creation and marketing of cat litter in the mid 1940s, more and more cats have become indoor-only pets. As such, cats are now leading longer lives, with some living 20+ years. Our homes offer a safer, healthier environment than life on the street. The average life span of an indoor cat is 10 years, whereas the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is just 2 years. There is no doubt that indoors is safer.

Creating An Indoor Adventure

Yet, when we choose to make our cats indoors-only companions, we have a responsibility to provide the stimulation that was previously provided by the great outdoors. Scratching and climbing posts become trees; interactive toys become hunted birds, bugs and field mice. A rotating array of cat playthings provides excitement, unpredictability and exercise which, in turn, gives your cat everything it needs while extending its life inside. With that said, many cat lovers still prefer to commune with nature with their feline friends. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize the risks.

Ensuring the Proper Vaccination Protocol

Most importantly, while vaccinations are important for indoor cats, they are absolutely critical to the health of outdoor cats. The threat of rabies, FeLV, FIV and FIP, transmitted through altercations with wildlife, or interaction with stray, un-vaccinated cats, should be enough to have your cat immunized in order to give you peace of mind. All of these diseases can be prevented and can provide your outdoor cat with proper protection should he need it.

They like to be outside, but the risks can be great.

Leash 'em Up & Go!

If you feel as though your cat deserves the fun of being outside, but want to provide a safe way to experience nature, there are alternatives to opening the door and watching him go. Harnesses and leashes (gasp!) have been developed for cats. Either cat specific or small dog accessories fit well and are relatively inexpensive. Training your cat to walk with the harness takes patience (unless you start with a kitten, in which case it could take less time), but the reward is worth it. Your cat will be able to experience the joys of being outside in a controlled environment. How far he can travel is up to you!

Consider An Outdoor Enclosure

Outdoor enclosures are another great alternative. Since outdoor enclosures are usually homemade, they come in all shapes and sizes. For durability, chicken wire or wire hardware cloth - secured around a simple wood frame - is preferable to ordinary window screening. The most successful structures usually feature climbing and resting furniture inside. A shaded area is necessary for warm or hot weather. Whether you choose an outdoor enclosure or add cat-proof netting to the top of traditional fencing, they are safest used only when you are at home able to check on them often.

Don't Forget Identification

Even with the option of training or providing your cat with an enclosed outdoor adventure area, you still need to consider identification. Lost cats result in heartache that can easily be avoided. Microchip and ID tags provide easy identification and may be what reunites you with your cat should he/she get lost or scooped up by a caring, but ignorant stranger.

When deciding whether or not to let your cat outdoors, it is important for you to consider the alternatives. As the pet industry expands and becomes more creative, more and more indoor/outdoor products are going to become available. Of course, there is nothing better than being outside. If you can provide your cat with the proper care and protection, allowing your cat to go outdoors can be a fun and healthy existence.