Short Takes: September 2015

Cute cat videos are all over the Internet and morning TV news shows, but to judge by a national survey of 1,023 people by PetSmart Charities, opinions about cats and their owners remain divided. A majority of respondents believe cats are intelligent, loving, cuddly and attractive but also invoked stereotypical adjectives such as moody, stubborn, aloof and grouchy. (You can bet grouchy cats have legitimate reasons for their mood, such as illness, pain or stress.)

Can a Homemade Raw Diet Offer Complete and Balanced Nutrition?

I am interested in feeding my 4-year-old Siamese cat a homemade diet and would like to make this a raw diet, as I have read that it is more natural for cats. Cat foods have so many artificial ingredients, and I am concerned that these additives may be harmful to him. What are your thoughts about these ideas?

Should They Regularly Feed Their Adult Cat Cows Milk?

I have a 12-year-old calico kitty who eats a regular diet of commercial fish cat food and some assorted cat food pates. She also loves whole milk, and we give it to her after her meals on a daily basis. A friend of mine told me that I should not give her milk, as this can be harmful. Is this true?

Short Takes: May 2015

Despite the potential consequences of obesity, up to 59 percent of cats are overweight, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. It lists some of the effects in Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, published in the Journal of the AAHA: chronic inflammation caused by fat tissue releasing hormones and proteins called cytokines, skin and respiratory disorders, renal dysfunction, diabetes and orthopedic disease.

Techniques and Treatments From Stem Cell Therapy to Massage

These are among the treatments that veterinarians increasingly use to improve cats well-being:

A Cat on an Underwater Treadmill?

The cats hip problem was so painful that he required a femoral head osteotomy, the surgical removal of the top of the thighbone forming the ball and socket joint. Afterward, the supporting muscle needed to be strengthened to bear the cats weight, but he refused to use his limb.

The solution: Exercise in an underwater treadmill twice a week for two or three weeks. Movement is easier underwater, and the resistance of the water helps strengthen muscle. It got the cat jump-started into using the leg better, says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, Ph.D., one of 83 specialists in the U.S. certified by the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. He heads the Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation service at Cornell University Hospital for Animals.

Looking Beyond the Ingredient Label

In our quest to eat healthy food, we often extend that enthusiasm to our cats. We evaluate their diets with the same scrupulous care we give our own, but commercial cat food can still remain somewhat of a mystery. We question if preservatives are safe. Should we avoid genetically modified ingredients? What about artificial coloring?

Whats Your Cats Age in Human Years?

If there were an AARP for pets, your cat would get his membership card when he turns 8. Thats about 50 years old in human years, according to Feline Life Stage Guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners and American Animal Hospital Association.

An Unmistakable Sign of Anal Problems: Scooting

Scent is one of the ways cats communicate, and their anal glands help in that effort. The pea-sized glands, or sacs, produce an odor that aids in establishing identity and territory. When a cat defecates, the scent glands empty through two ducts located at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions of the anal sphincter, the band of muscle encircling the anus.

Short Takes: June 2013

Obesity among pets in the U.S. continued to climb in 2012, with the number of overweight cats reaching an all-time high. Veterinarians reported that 58.3 percent of their feline patients — up from 55 percent over the previous year — were overweight or obese in the sixth annual survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Given the cat population of 74.1 million in this country, that equals about 43.2 million cats, the association says. Surprisingly, the survey also revealed a “fat gap,” according to APOP founder Ernie Ward, DVM. When veterinarians asked owners to describe their fat cats’ body condition as too thin, normal, overweight or obese, 45.3 percent said normal.

The Biggest Mistake in Giving Treats

Treats provide welcome rewards for good behavior, but their overly generous use can contribute to obesity. One reason is that owners don’t count treats as calories. “But the bigger problem is a multiple-person household in which every time someone walks by, they give the cat a treat,” says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Easing the Discomfort of GI Sufferers

While the cure for inflammatory bowel disease remains elusive, new strides on the nutritional and pharmaceutical fronts are helping affected cats lead healthier lives. The use of novel or hydrolyzed diets coupled with the administration of the synthetic steroid prednisolone seems to offer an effective one-two therapeutic punch for most cats diagnosed with IBD, says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.