THE BLOCKED CAT

Posted by : Dr. Randi Case
Dr. Jennifer Coates

Male or female, purebred or domestic shorthair, any cat can develop a urinary condition like Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), stones, or infection. But when the cat in question is a neutered male, BEWARE! They are at the highest risk for developing a much dreaded veterinary emergency: urinary obstruction.

Neutered male cats have incredibly narrow urethras (the tube that drains the bladder to the outside world through the penis). In fact, a neutered male’s urethra is so narrow that involuntary muscular contractions called urethral spasms can be enough to cause an obstruction. A small stone or a plug made of proteinaceous material and/or crystals can easily become lodged inside the urethra and completely block the outflow of urine.

When a cat is “blocked,” he will usually posture to urinate, but nothing — or just the tiniest dribble — will come out. As the condition progresses, he becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Eventually the pain is excruciating, and the bladder may even rupture due to the buildup of pressure. Also, the chemicals that should be exiting his body through urination quickly begin to accumulate in the blood stream, wreaking havoc on the body. Without rapid intervention, death will follow from this self-poisoning.

Treating a blocked cat involves emptying his bladder, relieving the urethral blockage, and dealing with the biochemical abnormalities that have developed. This is typically done by placing a catheter through the urethra and leaving it in place until the bladder has had a chance to remain empty and recover.

A recent study has shown that in some cases, draining the urine from the bladder via needle and syringe (often repeatedly) can also work. Intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy, pain relief, medications that promote normal function of the urinary tract, and providing a quiet, stress-free environment are necessary as well. If a cat never regains the ability to urinate normally, surgery can be performed to create a hole in the urethra above the blockage, through which urine can be expelled.

Unfortunately, cats that have experienced a urethral obstruction are at higher than average risk for developing the problem again. If a definitive cause for the blockage has been found, prevention strategies should be concentrated there. For example, a cat with struvite stones can be fed a diet that is known to dissolve this material and prevent the development of these stones in the future.

When no specific cause has been diagnosed, veterinarians differ in what they recommend. Some prescribe diets like those mentioned above because they generally promote a healthy urine pH and bladder environment. Others focus on water consumption, with the purpose being to dilute the urine enough to discourage crystals or other materials from clumping together. Owners can increase water consumption in their cats by feeding canned food, using a kitty “fountain,” and/or letting a cat’s favorite faucet drip. Research has shown that decreasing stress in the home also plays an important role in prevention.

What constitutes kitty stress, you might ask? In my opinion, boredom and dirty litter boxes are the top two stressors for indoor-only cats.

So, playing with your cat, providing him with lots of toys — and perhaps some catnip — placing a comfy perch in front of the window, turning on some music and keeping the litter boxes clean might just help prevent another panicked rush to the veterinary hospital.

Why do Wolves Howl?

Wolves Howl Because They Care: Social Relationship Can Explain Variation in vocal Production

Posted by Randi Case, DC

When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn’t a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. (Credit: Mazzini et al.)

Aug. 22, 2013 — When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn’t a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. So say researchers based on a study of nine wolves from two packs living at Austria’s Wolf Science Center that appears in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on August 22.

The findings shed important light on the degree to which animal vocal production can be considered as voluntary, the researchers say.

“Our results suggest the social relationship can explain more of the variation we see in howling behavior than the emotional state of the wolf,” says Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. “This suggests that wolves, to a certain extent, may be able to use their vocalizations in a flexible way.”

Scientists have known very little about why animals make the sounds that they do. Are they uncontrollable emotional responses? Or do animals have the ability to change those vocalizations based on their own understanding of the social context?

At the Wolf Science Center, human handlers typically take individual wolves out for walks on a leash, one at a time. On those occasions, they knew, the remaining pack mates always howl.

To better understand why, Range and her colleagues measured the wolves’ stress hormone levels. They also collected information on the wolves’ dominance status in the pack and their preferred partners. As they took individual wolves out for long walks, they recorded the reactions of each of their pack mates.

Those observations show that wolves howl more when a wolf they have a better relationship with leaves the group and when that individual is of high social rank. The amount of howling did not correspond to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

“Our data suggest that howling is not a simple stress response to being separated from close associates but instead may be used more flexibly to maintain contact and perhaps to aid in reuniting with allies,” Range says.

As always, We at TheWagSheet welcome your comments and questions..WOOF!

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press.

Living with a Companion Rabbit

Posted by: Randi Case, DC

What’s it like to have a pet rabbit?

Rabbits are very loving, social animals, which means they not only love to spend time with their humans – they require it. Without human interaction, rabbits can get bored, even to the point of becoming lonely and depressed. While toys can alleviate some of their boredom, they still need human attention and interaction. Many rabbits also enjoy having another rabbit as a friend.

Some people wonder if rabbits are more like cats or dogs. They’re like rabbits! Yours might use a litterbox like a cat and get excited to see you like a dog, but really, rabbits are not quite like either of these animals. Do they “make good pets”? They make wonderful, intelligent companions for wonderful, intelligent people! Each rabbit has a different personality just like each person does. A new rabbit owner should be willing to learn a new language when she brings home a rabbit as a companion. A rabbit will teach you a new way of looking at the world! Although they can be ornery at times, rabbits are wonderful, fun, and loving companions.

Are you the right kind of person to live with a rabbit? Rabbits make wonderful companions for the right people.

Are you patient?
Do you have a sense of humor?
Do you enjoy watching the movements and learning the language of another species?
Does your schedule include plenty of time at home?
Are you comfortable spending a lot of time on the floor?
Are you not overly fussy with your furniture?

Why doesn’t my rabbit like to cuddle in my arms?
It’s important to remember that rabbits are prey animals. Prey animals interact with their environment very differently than predators like cats and dogs. In general, rabbits do not like to be picked up. The act of bending over them and grabbing them by their ribs to pick them up is very similar to being picked up by a hawk – scary!!

The best way to interact with your rabbit is on the floor. Sit in the room while bunny is out to play and she will soon come investigate you. She will like to be petted sitting next to you, but not necessarily while being carried in your arms! If you choose a cage or pen with a sideopening door and put it on the floor or provide a ramp to a taller cage, you can let bunny in and out for playtime without ever picking her up!

If you are going to pick up your rabbit, make sure you do it correctly. The best way is to place one hand under her rib cage and the other under her bottom, scooping her back legs so she can’t kick. This method will protect her fragile backbone while protecting you from those strong kicking back legs and sharp nails. It is also important to wear an appropriate shirt when handling a rabbit to avoid being scratched by nails as bunny tries to get away! Or just encourage or herd bunny into a pet carrier or box and move him that way.

Keep in mind your rabbit will likely be easier to interact with and handle once spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering reduces hormone-driven behaviors like lunging, mounting, spraying, and boxing. Spaying also protects female bunnies from uterine cancer, which can be quite common in older unspayed rabbits.

How about playtime outside my rabbit’s cage or pen?
Just like all animals, your rabbit will need to exercise as well as play. He will need toys like cardboard tubes, phone books, and rattly rolling things to keep him busy. Your rabbit will also need to have anywhere from 30 to 40 hours of ‘run time’ outside his enclosure per week. Be aware that rabbits love to explore and discover – which could involve tasting items in your home. That is the nice way to say you will need to ‘bunnyproof’ your house to protect it from bunny and to keep bunny from getting hurt.

Some Basic Facts
Rabbits can be litterbox trained
Rabbits can live to be 7-10 years old
Rabbits are inquisitive, sociable animals
Rabbits make wonderful indoor companions
Rabbits can purr when contented

Like cats and dogs, rabbits need to be spayed or neutered to improve health and behavior

Most rabbits do not like to be held–they prefer to sit beside you

Rabbits like to play with toys, such as cardboard boxes, wire cat balls, hard plastic baby keys, untreated willow baskets

Rabbits need to have things of their own to chew on (or they might nibble on your stuff)

Rabbits need to be protected from predators, poisons, temperature extremes, electrical cords, and rough handling

Why Does My Cat… Meow at Me?

Why Does My Cat… Meow at Me?
BY DR. PATTY KHULY
Posted by Randi Case. 10/6/2013

If you’ve ever lived with a vocal cat, you’ve almost certainly asked yourself this question. After all, who could resist wanting to know what your feline friend is thinking as she meows plaintively at your sleeping face early in the morning or weaves her way between your legs while crying herself hoarse?

Most of the typical in-the-wild feline sounds—like hissing, spitting, growling, and that hair-raising high-pitched screaming thing cats do when they’re fighting and mating—are self-explanatory: They’re angry, scared, or hoping to impress. But the plain-old “meow” can seem confusing to us humans.

Behaviorists say that cats meow at humans because they want something and, most important, because meowing gets results.

And that’s undeniably true. Meowing works. But why?

Interestingly, some experts say that the sound “meow,” as we know it, developed at least in part because we humans associate it with the needy cry of an infant. But it’s also undeniable that kittens meow when they want something. So it’s no stretch to assume cats didn’t learn to associate meows with requests.

But cats can meow at varying frequencies, pitches, tones, volumes, and lengths. A meow imploring you to open the back door, for example, can sound completely different from the excited, “I’m about to be fed” meow, which is totally different from the meow that happens right before you scratch her right behind her ear at bedtime.

As anyone who’s ever heard two different cats meow knows, no two feline voices are ever exactly the same. But beyond the vagaries of voice box machinery, most of the variation comes from the cat’s own personality. And there’s no predicting how the interaction of any given human-cat personality pairing will affect meowing. After all, when some cats learn that meowing brings them satisfaction, the very act of meowing can become satisfactory in its own right.

So what do you do when the vocal requests get continuous or turn into an obsessive, repetitive behavior? It’s always a good idea to take kitty to the veterinarian’s office to make sure nothing is awry. If the veterinarian doesn’t find any physical problem, you may want to seek out a certified animal behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to get the answer you need.

But rest assured, the vast majority of vocal cats are not pathologically afflicted. Quite the opposite, most are simply voicing their healthy demands—pleasurably.

This article was written by a Veterinarian.

Massive Moby Losing Weight Before Knee Surgery

Excerpted from The (Bloomington) Pantagraph

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Using a bed sheet as a sling to help support Moby’s rear left leg, Jenn Jobe took the 90.4-pound beagle mix for a walk.

Even though Moby needed the support of the makeshift sling during his 15-minute walk, his tail was wagging.  ”He’s very happy, very motivated and very loving for being so overweight,” said Jobe, animal care manager at the Humane Society of Central Illinois in Normal.

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In this Aug. 28, 2013 photo, Jenn Jobe of the Humane Society of Central Illinois in Normal, Ill., takes Moby, a 5-year-old, 90.4 pound beagle mix for a walk.

Moby has become Central Illinois’ poster dog on pet obesity.  ”He’s an extreme example,” said Dr. Jamie Schertz of Town & Country Animal Hospital, Normal.

Moby, who is 5 years old, was brought to the humane society July 8. His previous owner could no longer take care of him for medical reasons and couldn’t afford the surgery that Moby needed, Jobe explained. It’s unknown how Moby injured his knee.

The previous owner said the dog already was overweight when he got him two years before. Humane society staff believe the dog ate a lot of table scraps, wasn’t taken for walks and received no medical care for at least two years.

When he was brought to the humane society, he couldn’t walk. He got around by pulling himself forward with his front paws and scooting his back side.

The dog had a different name but Jobe named him Moby, short for “immobile.”

The next day, humane society representatives took Moby to Schertz.”He was brought in on a stretcher,” Schertz recalled. “He was unable to stand on his hind legs because he was so overweight. He had almost no muscle tone in his back legs.”

The injury to his left rear leg is called a luxating patella, meaning his knee cap pops out of place, she said.  He weighed 93.6 pounds — at least 40 pounds overweight.

Schertz put him on anti-inflammatory medicine to help to ease the pain. He was given a supplement to help lubricate his joints. She put him on a prescription weight loss diet. And she prescribed exercise.

Humane society staff walk Moby for 15 minutes three times a day. Moby now does some walking without the sling.”He’s doing fantastic,” Schertz said. While 3.2 pounds of weight loss doesn’t sound like a lot, it has happened while Moby has gained muscle, Schertz said.

Schertz wants Moby to lose about another five pounds and gain more muscle tone before he undergoes the knee surgery.  ”We need to make sure that Moby can support himself on his good (rear) leg before we do the surgery on his bad leg,” she explained.

Schertz hopes that the surgery can be performed in about a month. Surgery and medications will cost $1,200.  After Moby recovers, the humane society hopes that he will be adopted by a family committed to continue his healthy eating and exercise regimen.

For Moby to lose 40 pounds will take several years, Schertz said. Dropping weight too quickly could cause liver damage, she said.  ”The ultimate goal for Moby is to get to a weight that’s manageable for him,” Schertz said. “Hopefully, he’ll have a productive life in a healthy environment.”

 

Crash-Test Dummy Dogs Hunt for a Safe Seat Belt

Article excerpted from a 10/2/2013 article by Matthew Dolan (WSJ.com)

Auto makers have used crash-test dummies to simulate stresses and strains on human forms from big men to tiny women. Now, it’s Fido’s turn.

The nonprofit Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Va., has teamed up with auto maker Subaru to run preliminary tests on 11 pet safety belts.

The goal: To figure out which pet restraints work well enough to earn a seal of approval from pet-advocacy groups, which the center hopes will one day set national safety standards.

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Center for Pet Safety - A specially designed canine dummy gets buckled in by researchers in a collaborative crash-test study of pet harnesses conducted by Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety.

This summer at a private product-testing lab in Virginia, seven of the 11 pet harnesses underwent crash testing. The center designed some of the world’s first crash-test dogs, simulating a 25-pound terrier mix, a 45-pound border collie and a 75-pound golden retriever.

The final results, expected to be released this week, weren’t encouraging. Sleepypod’s Clickit three-point safety harness was the only restraint that consistently kept a dog from launching off the seat. It was also the only one judged to offer substantial protection to all passengers, dog included, in the event of an accident.

Subaru says it will soon offer Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness as an accessory in its vehicles.

The Center for Pet Safety, which says it doesn’t receive any funding or free products from the pet-device industry, is in the first stages of trying to establish a uniform standard to judge all pet restraints.

“It establishes a good baseline,” said Sean Kane, a noted auto-safety researcher with Safety Research & Strategies, who reviewed the study at The Wall Street Journal’s request. The variations in test-dummy size were particularly important, he noted, since larger dogs consistently fared worse in the tests.

An untethered pet can create a safety hazard. Pet advocacy group Bark Buckle Up argues that unrestrained pets act like missiles in accidents, endangering passengers and themselves. In one calculation by motorist-advocacy group AAA, even a 10-pound unrestrained dog in a crash at only 30 miles an hour will exert roughly 300 pounds of force.

Law-enforcement groups say an injured or disoriented pet thrown from a car crash can turn violent or impede rescue efforts.

Several pet-restraint manufacturers say consumers should be cautious of these early test results. The firms say they crash-test their products at accredited facilities. The devices, however, aren’t tested by the American Pet Products Association, the federal government, traffic-safety groups or other product-safety groups.

“Our members are continuously striving to develop products that enhance the lives, health and safety of pets,” says Bob Vetere, chief executive of the American Pet Products Association, who says he hopes consumers will continue using pet restraints.

Nearly 90% of U.S. pet owners say they travel with their pets, but few strap them in, despite recommendations from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and others. Some 17% of drivers surveyed in a 2011 AAA study admitted driving with a pet on their lap.