Saturday May 18, 2013
SimplyCats December Mewsletter:
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Hello and welcome to our December 2009 Mewsletter!.
By producing this Mewsletter we can reach and help so many more people to understand and care for their cats. This will go out to our clients at SimplyCats and also to our clients who have signed up on our Cat Behavior Web Site. We apologise for the American spelling but 80% of the clients on this site are from overseas.
We hope to mail all SimplyCats subscribers monthly. Remember this mailing is totally free and you can un-subscribe at any time, using the link on the top of the page or at the end of this Mewsletter..
Please feel free to browse our website where you will be able to view our special offers. www.simplycats.net
The idea is to select a number of articles each month that we think our subscribers will be interested in and have a direct link to how your cat thinks and his / her wellbeing. We sincerely believe the most important aspect of living in harmony with your cat is understanding how he or she thinks. You have to get inside your cats mind. This was the real passion behind creating our Cat Behaviour Guide and SimplyCats.
"As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human mind."
- Cleveland Amory
Being cat vets, feline behavior and cat medicine is an area of continuous interest to both of us and has a massive influence on the well being of cats and the humans owned by cats ;-). This is even more important when your beloved cat is ill or sick.
Knowing about cat behavior has been the centre point of the design of our cat only veterinary practice for example CAT ONLY, NO DOGS, all kept quiet and calm with places to hide in most of the hospitalisation cages. Also very careful use and selection of disinfectants etc. so as not to disturb the cats incredible sense of smell. Remember all these facts when you are trying to make your home cat friendly, though, do remember cats can get on fine with dogs once carefully introduced.
Treatments for Cancer
Surgery is the single most common form of therapy for cancer and is the most likely treatment to result in a cure. It can have several different goals, depending on the circumstances but a cure (complete removal of the tumour) is not always possible as some tumours spread readily through tissues, or can spread to distant sites (metastasise). This is one of the reasons why an early diagnosis and early treatment can significantly improve the long-term prognosis. Surgery can therefore have a number of different goals:
Obtaining a biopsy (sample of the tissue) for the initial diagnosis and to determine the type of cancer present
Removing all of the cancer present to effect a cure
Repeating surgery where the first attempt failed to remove all of the affected tissue to effect a cure
Removal of a large bulk of tumour with the knowledge that this will not cure the disease but with the intention to follow this up with additional therapy (drugs or radiation therapy) to help combat the remaining cancer. In this way, surgery can significantly improve the effectiveness of other treatments. Removal of the tumour or metastatic disease (tumour that has spread elsewhere in the body) where it is known and understood that surgery cannot cure the condition, but can appreciably improve the quality of life.
Surgery itself can inflict some pain and suffering, and inevitably there are some risks involved with surgery (that vary between patients). Again, you can discuss with your vet the risks and benefits anticipated with surgery to help make a decision in the best interest of your cat. You can also discuss with your vet any pain relief (analgesic therapy) that can be given for the surgery and afterwards, and what sort of post-operative care would be required.
Radiation therapy is a frightening concept for many people as it is often assumed there will be numerous side-effects associated with its use. However, as with any form of cancer therapy for cats, the goal is to improve quality of life and to relieve any discomfort, without causing any unnecessary additional suffering. Radiation therapy is able to achieve this for many cat cancers. Unfortunately, the availability of radiation therapy is quite restricted and so your veterinary surgeon is likely to have to refer you to a specialist for this treatment.
Radiation therapy most commonly involves what is known as 'external beam radiation' – similar to X-rays. A machine is used to focus a beam of radiation at the tumour, but the radiation is much more intense than that produced by an X-ray machine. The radiation produced has the ability to kill off cancer cells, but can also damage normal cells too. Thus by carefully calculating the dose and the frequency of radiation therapy, along with focusing the beam of radiation on the cancer being treated, it is possible to kill off the cancer cells while causing little damage to surrounding tissues. Although radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells, this does not mean that the treated cat becomes 'radioactive' and there is no risk whatsoever to people in contact with the cat.
External beam radiation therapy
External beam radiation therapy requires a short general anaesthetic, and generally several treatments are given (each lasting only a few minutes) over a three to five week period. Radiation therapy has the ability to cure some tumours, while others can be shrunk and controlled with this therapy for a good period of time. Although inevitably some damage will occur to surrounding normal tissue, in most cases this is minimal and will not cause significant side effects. The specialist undertaking this therapy would discuss with you in detail what was involved before you make any decision. The radiation therapy itself does not hurt, and indeed it can be an effective way of providing pain relief if the cancer is causing pain. Skin irritation and hair loss at the site of radiation therapy is one of the most common side effects – medication will be used to control this if
necessary. Side effects such as nausea and vomiting are extremely rare. Cats appear to tolerate radiation therapy better than most animals or humans. They develop less significant side effects.
Another form of radiation therapy called brachytherapy is occasionally used, where sources of radiation are placed within or on the surface of the body (using a probe) to expose a tumour to radiation therapy. This can provide a more localised form of radiation therapy and can be used, for example, to treat some skin tumours such as squamous cell carcinoma.
Depending on the type of tumour being treated, radiation therapy is often used in combination with surgery and/or drugs (chemotherapy). Some forms of chemotherapy will actually enhance the effectiveness of the radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy (drug therapy)
As with radiation therapy, the thought of chemotherapy often carries many misconceptions. Many people know of friends or relatives who have received chemotherapy for cancer and have experienced significant adverse effects associated with the treatment. Although anti-cancer drugs can, and do on occasions, produce side effects in animals too, most people are surprised and relieved at how well cats tolerate chemotherapy. This is in part because cats tolerate the treatment better and in part because lower doses are sometimes used to avoid side effects that affect the quality of life.
A wide variety of different drugs are available to treat cancers, and the choice of drug again depends on the tumours being treated, what is available, and how the cat may tolerate the treatment. Your vet will be able to discuss this with you and if necessary refer you to a specialist for further advice and/or treatment. For many cancers a combination of drugs are used so that the dose of any one drug can be minimised (reducing the risk of side effects) and so that the cancer cells can be attacked in different ways.
Most (but not all) chemotherapy drugs work by interfering with the ability of cells to divide (one of the characteristics of cancer cells is their uncontrolled, continual growth and division). Side effects, when they occur, often arise as a result of interference with other cells in the body that also divide rapidly, such as cells in the bone marrow, the intestinal tract and the skin. Side effects that may be seen with chemotherapy therefore include:
Suppression of the bone marrow - this causes a low white blood cell count. The cells usually affected first by this are white blood cells known as neutrophils. Where chemotherapy is being given that can affect the bone marrow, it is important that regular blood samples are taken to monitor the white blood cell count (usually seven to 10 days after the drug is given). If the neutrophil count falls too low, the dose and/or frequency of the drug is usually reduced, and antibiotics may be temporarily prescribed. Platelets (cells in the blood associated with clotting) may also sometimes be affected by chemotherapy, and these too are checked when routine blood samples are taken.
Hair loss – although hair loss can be one of the most obvious side effects of chemotherapy in humans, hair loss in cats is rare. Where it does occur, it is usually just the whiskers that are affected and generalised hair loss is extremely rare.
Gastrointestinal irritation – a number of drugs used to treat cats can cause irritation to the intestinal tract for a few days after their administration. This can be manifested as nausea and vomiting, or sometimes just as lethargy and inappetence. Where this occurs the dose of the drugs can be altered and/or other medications can be used to overcome these effects. It is helpful to keep a diary of your cat's behaviour while it is receiving chemotherapy, including a note of any vomiting or diarrhoea present, and the cat's appetite. If ever you are concerned about possible side effects associated with treatment, contact your vet immediately.
Other side effects generally depend on the drug being used – some have the potential to damage the kidneys, or the heart and thus monitoring or careful use may be required. However, in general less than 20 per cent (one in five) treated cats will experience any side effects.
Some drugs can be given as tablets, but others have to be given as injections by your vet. Some of these injections need to be given carefully into a vein (blood vessel) as they can cause severe irritation to tissues if injected outside a vein. It is therefore quite common for a catheter to be placed into a vein (usually in a leg) and for the drug to be injected through this – for some drugs the injection is a small volume, but for others it is dissolved in a large volume of fluid that is infused slowly. Most injectable forms of chemotherapy are administered at intervals of one to four weeks.
Do I need to take precautions if my cat is receiving chemotherapy?
Because anti-cancer drugs can affect healthy as well as cancerous cells (in humans as well as cats), unnecessary exposure to these drugs should be avoided wherever possible. This includes unnecessary handling of the drugs, but also exposure to the drugs in urine and faeces that are produced by a cat being treated (and also other body fluids like saliva and vomit). If some simple precautions are taken, this exposure and any consequent risks can be reduced to an absolute minimum:
Your vet will warn you if he or she is prescribing tablets for you to give at home that are potentially harmful. If this is the case, it is important that these tablets (or capsules) are not split or crushed – they will have a protective coat on them that is designed to avoid any direct contact with the drug itself. Ideally the tablets should be handled and administered while wearing disposable gloves. If your cat spits out a tablet, this can be picked up (wearing gloves), wrapped in kitchen paper and then flushed down the toilet.
Most drugs are eliminated from the body in the urine and/or faeces, and in general the concentrations of the drug will be highest in the first few days after treatment. Even here, the amount of drug excreted is actually very low, but it is safest to wear disposable gloves when cleaning a litter tray and to place soiled litter in a sealed bag in the dustbin. If your cat urinates and defecates outdoors, no special precautions will be necessary.
Soiled bedding should be washed separately from any other washing, and similarly food and water bowls should be washed separately from your own bowls and utensils.
These simple precautions will help to make sure that any potential exposure to these drugs is kept to an absolute minimum.
General and palliative care
As already noted, it is useful to keep a diary of your cat's behaviour, appetite, and any abnormalities you observe (vomiting, retching, diarrhoea, lethargy, etc) as well as a note of when you administer any medications. This will help you and your vet determine if any additional treatments or investigations are necessary.
Maintaining good nutritional intake is an important part of the supportive care for your cat with cancer, and offering a variety of foods can help to ensure that a good appetite is maintained. In general good quality commercial foods are the best choice for a cat with cancer, although at times there may be some special dietary requirements to take into consideration. Warming the food may also encourage the appetite, but occasionally, depending on the circumstances, a temporary use of a feeding tube may be needed to overcome the problems of poor food intake. Significant inappetence or complete loss of appetite can indicate an underlying problem such as uncontrolled pain, or side effects associated with the treatment being received, that requires further investigation. Your vet will be able to work with you to try to overcome such problems and provide the optimum care for
Ensuring a good quality of life that is free from pain is the main goal in managing cats with cancer. Supportive therapy can be an important part of this, and in addition to the use of analgesic ('pain-killing') drugs when necessary, other treatments may also be used (depending on the circumstances) including, for example, antibiotics where secondary bacterial infection may be a complication and anti-inflammatory drugs where swelling and inflammation associated with a tumour is problematic.
Never be afraid to ask questions and to find out as much information you can about your cat's cancer and treatment options, and if there is ever anything you are concerned about regarding the cancer or potential treatment side effects always contact your vet immediately.
Moving home with your cat
Before the removal van arrives it is advisable to place your cat in one room - the ideal location would be a bedroom.
Put the cat carrier, cat bed, food bowl, water bowl and litter tray in this room and ensure the door and windows remain shut.
Place a notice on the door so that removal men and family know that this door should be kept shut.
When all other rooms have been emptied, the contents of the bedroom can be placed in the van last. Before the furniture is removed your cat should be placed in the cat carrier and put safely in the car to make the journey to the new home. Follow the advice below for transporting your cat.
The bedroom furniture should be the first to be installed in the new home.
Place a synthetic feline facial pheromone diffuser (a plug-in Feliway device available from your veterinary practice) in a floor level socket in the new room where your cat will be temporarily confined. Once the room is ready your cat can be placed inside with his bed, food bowl, water bowl and litter tray and the door shut. If possible a family member can sit in the room with your cat for a while as he explores.
Offer your cat some food.
Once the removal has been completed your cat can be allowed to investigate the rest of the house one room at a time.
It is important to remain as calm as possible to signal to your cat that it is a safe environment.
Ensure that all external doors and windows are shut.
Be cautious about allowing your cat unsupervised access to the kitchen or utility room as particularly nervous individuals will often seek refuge in narrow gaps behind appliances.
If your cat is particularly anxious it may be advisable to place him in a cattery the day before the move and collect the day after you are established in your new home.
Transporting your cat
If your cat is an anxious traveller you may wish to speak to your veterinary surgeon before the journey; a mild sedative may be prescribed.
Feed your cat as normal but ensure the mealtime is at least three hours before travelling.
Transport your cat in a safe container, ie ,a cat basket or carrier.
Spray the inside of the cat carrier with synthetic feline facial pheromones (Feliway; Ceva - available from your veterinary surgeon) half an hour before you place your cat inside.
Place the carrier in a seat and secure with the seat belt, in the well behind the seat or wedged safely on the back seat so that it cannot move around.
Do not transport your cat in the removal van or in the boot of the car.
If it is a long journey you may want to stop and offer water or a chance to use a cat tray, although most cats will not be interested.
If it is a hot day make sure the car is well ventilated; never leave the cat inside a hot car if you stop for a break.
Helping your cat to settle in
Keep your cat indoors for at least two weeks to get used to the new environment.
Provide small frequent meals.
Maintain routines adopted in your previous house to provide continuity and familiarity.
Help your cat feel secure in his new home by spreading his scent throughout the house. Take a soft cotton cloth (or use lightweight cotton gloves) and rub your cat gently around the cheeks and head to collect the scent from glands around his face. Scrape this cloth or glove against the corners of doorways, walls and furniture at cat height to help your cat to become familiar with his territory as quickly as possible. Repeat this process daily until you start to see your cat rubbing against objects.
Continue to use the synthetic feline facial pheromone diffuser and rotate the device throughout the house, one room at a time.
Extra care should be taken for the permanently indoor cat as a new environment will be potentially unsettling.
Letting your cat outside
Keep your cat indoors for a couple of weeks to get used to the new property.
Make sure your cat has some form of identification (a collar with a quick release section to avoid getting caught up) with his name, address and contact phone number.
Alternatively, (or additionally) ask your vet to microchip your cat to ensure he can be returned if he gets lost. If he is already microchipped, remember to inform the registering company of your change of address and phone number.
Ensure your cat's vaccinations are up to date.
Consider fitting a cat flap for ease of access outdoors when you are out once your cat is settled. Make sure it is an electronically or magnetically controlled exclusive entry system to avoid the risk of strange cats invading your home.
Chase away any cats if you see them in your garden, your cat will need all the help he can get to establish territory as the ‘new cat on the block'
Introduce your cat to the outdoors gradually by initially opening the door and going into the garden with him.
If he is used to a harness then it would be useful to walk him around the garden on a lead.
Don't carry him outside, allow him to decide if he wants to explore.
Always keep the door open initially so that he can escape indoors if something frightens him.
Outdoor cats with a wider experience of change generally cope well; timid cats may take time to adapt to the new environment and should be accompanied outside until they build up their confidence.
We now have an online shop
You can now purchase food and toys from our online shop - just click on the link below !
An excerpt from our Cat First Aid book
Constipation usually arises due to hair and faeces that are too dry to pass through the anus. Other causes of constipation include slow intestinal movement, hernias, tumours and ingested bones and grass. Some neuropathies affecting the nerves that control intestinal contractions cause constipation and often diarrhoea that causes straining can be mistaken for constipation. Constipation is more common in older cats preparations of liquid paraffin can help keep the stools softened.
If grass is protruding from the cat’s anus, gently ease it out. Never pull a string or thread from a cat’s anus it may be long and caught up in the intestines pulling will cause major damage.
If faeces are stuck in the hair around the anus, trim carefully with scissors, wash the area with warm soapy water and apply soothing KY jelly.
See a vet within 24hrs if the cat seems in pain, is vomiting, is passing thin ribbon like faeces, has foul smelling faeces with or without blood, has a bulge to the side of the anus or has material hanging from the anus.
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Weightwatchers - Dubby's Diet - continued....
Caroline, one of the receptionists at SimplyCats has three cats. Two are an ideal weight but one called Sandy weighed in on the 6th May 2009 an (un)impressive 8.85kg (19.4 pounds).
Dubby has been doing well over the last three weeks on a diet of tinned food and a little bit of dry biscuit to bulk it out. All carefully measured. He continues to tell Caroline that he is starving between meals but she has to stay firm. As the scales show, he stands guilty as charged at 8.97kg so we still have a way to go before we reach his 'start' weight from May! Onward and forward is the key to success! You shoudn't have eaten that hedgehog food, Dubby....
He will still be weighed on a monthly basis so, hopefully in the next edition of this Mewsletter there will hopefully be more positive news to tell - watch this space!
Grub the Kitten - seven weeks old
On Wednesday 7th October a kitten only a few hours old was brought to the clinic after being rejected by his mother. Covered in fly eggs and larvae he was quickly named 'Grub' by Claire
, our vet nurse who has been hand-rearing him.
For those of you have been following Grub's progress and have met and seen him grow here is a brief summary written by Claire of a kitten's progress through the weeks.
"Hand rearing a kitten is an extremely intensive and demanding time condensed into a short period of your life. The rewards of my labours far exceed my sleepless nights.
He been a fantastic lesson for some of the visitors to the surgery, as many of you have seen him taking his bottle and many people have never seen a kitten so small.
Kittens hand reared in isolation from other cats are at risk of developing psychological abnormalities, including nervousness, aggression and a reduced ability to cope with strange surroundings, people or animals. Kittens hand reared in the presence of other cats are less likely to be affected, since they can develop by watching the other cats.
Socialisation is extremely important for well adjusted kittens. Introduce the kittens to other animals as soon as possible.
Grub has been introduced to my three other cats at home (Zippy, Boris & Mable) who despite an initial scared look on their face, have taken to him well. Grub has also been introduced to my two dogs (Jack & Millie) who love him. My dogs have been brought up with cats and are used to cats and small kittens (as I've hand reared kittens and puppies several times before).
There are several basic functions to be addressed when hand rearing kittens. These include the provision of a clean, warm environment, a strict feeding regime, attention to urination and defecation (emptying of the bowels), and attention to general health.
Total dedication and commitment is required by the carer at all times.
Kittens' responses are limited and revolve around thermal stimuli, tactile stimuli and sense of smell. They are relatively immobile but can use a slow paddling movement to travel very short distances. During this time and up until three weeks of age the kitten is totally dependent on the mother's milk for nutrition, nursing is initiated entirely by the mother. Eyes will open at any time between two and sixteen days but usually between seven and ten days. Teeth start to erupt at about two weeks of age.
Vision starts to play a role in guiding the kitten towards its mother. Basic walking appears during the third week and by four weeks of age kittens can move a reasonable distance. The body-righting reaction is fully developed by four weeks. Kittens normally start to eat solid food at four weeks old.
By the five week kittens show brief episodes of running. By five weeks of age kittens may start to kill mice. Kittens are no longer dependent on their mother to stimulate urination.
Kittens have begun to show adult-like responses to threatening social stimuli, both visual and smell. Weaning is usually complete by seven weeks after birth. By this time a kitten's ability to maintain body temperature is the same as an adult. Complex movement, such as walking along and turning around on a narrow fence may not develop fully until ten to eleven weeks after birth. Sexual maturity can occur from six months of age (occasionally earlier) and social maturity (adulthood) at any time between eighteen months and four years of age".
A SimplyCats 'Cats and Coffee' evening at Caffe Nero in Durham
On Tuesday 12th January 2010 between 6.30pm and 8.00pm we are holding an informal 'Cats and Coffee' evening for our clients and cat loving friends at Caffe Nero, located at 34 Silver Street, Durham City DH1 3RD (opposite Marks & Spencer).
The evening will consist of a cat behaviour talk lasting approximately 30 mins followed by a question and answer session and chance to talk about your own cats and share experiences, good or bad with other like-minded people over a coffee.
Please feel free to come along on the night. Places are limited so if at all possible could you e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org in order to help us confirm catering numbers for the buffet.
Lost and found cats useful link:
For further information on any behavioural problems please see our e-book 'Purrfect Cat Behavior'.
Please keep this book to yourself.
Paul and Sarah MRCVS
It is very difficult to know how much to put into a newsletter but for the next edition we will continue to explore the treatments of cancer, show you more from our new book on Cat First Aid and discuss more aspects of feline behaviour.
Be creative, live long, be happy and follow your own path.
...And the emperor said "Let the party begin!"
Paul and Sarah M's RCVS
Remember - a cat is for life, not just for Christmas!
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