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Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Lumps and bumps

Thursday, July 26, 2018
   

Lumps under cats' skin can appear overnight or over a long period.
Abscesses from cat fights are soft and the skin is often inflamed. Once lanced and drained of pus most cat abscesses heal rapidly.
More worrisome are lumps that grow over a period of weeks or months or that are firm. Never ignore these types of bumps in a cat's skin. Malignant skin tumours are more prevalent in cats than in dogs or other species. We should address them as quickly as possible to prevent local spread and invasion of the body.
Point out any unusual swelling or lump to your vet. A simple check of cells under the microscope will give us some idea of what it is. We may recommend biopsy or removal and send the lump to the pathology lab as a result.
The pathologist will tell us what the lump is, how benign or malignant it is and whether the surgeon has removed all of it. Often we will also find out if it is in the lymphatic system or nearby blood vessels. 
Squamous cell carcinomas (skin cancer) are the most common skin tumour in the cat. They present more as ulceration of pale ears and noses than as lumps. Excision or freezing of the affected part or skin, and avoidance of the sun treats many of these cancers.
Sarcomas break all the rules however. While they remain encapsulated under the skin and rarely invade other organs, they frequently grow so large that they impede the cat's mobility and make life very uncomfortable. Also removing all of a sarcoma is no guarantee that it won't grow back.

Fat kills

Thursday, August 10, 2017

 

 Fat itself is a serious health threat, particularly in small animals like our beloved cats. We don't do our cats - or our wallets - any favours by letting the cats in our lives accumulate fat.

Killer Chronic Inflammation - fat cells produce toxic compounds (adipokines) which cause chronic inflammation and damage all over the body

Decreased Life Expectancy - pets kept at a lean body mass live an average of 2 years longer and had fewer medical problems. Fat cats suffer more health issues and live shorter lives

Osteoarthritis - overloaded joints break down cartilage leading to arthritis but it also appears the adipokines produced by fat tissue compound the problem.

Diabetes - obesity leads to diabetes and insulin resistance in many cats, especially Burmese cats

Kidney Disease - excess weight in cats leads to high blood pressure, which can directly affect the kidney.

Respiratory Disease - trying to breath with excess fat along the chest wall and abdomen is like having a heavy bag pushing down on your chest. It alters the normal breathing pattern and reduces overall activity.

Cancer - Obesity causes increased cancer rates in mice and men. Not enough studies have been done on cats to confirm the linkage in cats - but it's only a matter of time.

Unexplained weight loss

Thursday, January 19, 2017

 

 Weight loss in cats is a sensitive indicator of many feline diseases. Because cats don't give us many clues when they are ill we take unexpected weight loss very seriously.

If a cat loses weight over a day or so then dehydration from a more rapid onset illness, pancreatitis or a gastrointestinal upset is more likely. We should correct the dehydration as soon as possible so don't hesitate to call us for advice or an appointment.

Even if your cat seems otherwise well and happy, weight loss over a month or more could be due to diseases such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. It is only when these diseases are well advanced that a cat will finally show obvious signs.

When your cats come in for a regular exam the first thing we do is weigh them. We take weight loss very seriously and if you haven't been intentionally dieting them we will recommend  tests. Hyperthyroidism, diabetes and kidney disease are detected with tests we do in our own laboratory. Results are available within half an hour. If we don't find anything then we discuss the possibility of bowel disease or other more unusual diseases.

It is always better to detect and manage disease earlier rather than later. Cats often have chronic ongoing disease. With good management we can improve their quality of life and ensure they live a good long life with you.

 

 

Furballs and vomiting

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Stomach and intestinal disease is so common in cats that many people think vomiting and ‘furballs’ in an otherwise healthy cat are normal.

 

Vomiting more than once a week, particularly if your cat is losing weight is NOT normal. Furballs are a sign of stomach or intestinal inflammation and should be investigated.

  

There are many causes of vomiting. The easiest to diagnose and treat is an intolerance to a particular food, usually a protein like fish, lamb or beef. If the vomiting stops when your cat is switched to a hypoallergenic diet then a dietary intolerance is the most likely cause. Once the offending protein has been identified you just have to avoid feeding it to your cat.

 

Cats that eat grass or other hard- to-digest plants frequently vomit. Preventing access to the grass may solve the problem but often they are driven to eat grass by an irritated stomach.

 

If a hypoallergenic diet does not eliminate the vomiting we suspect a more serious disease like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or a gut cancer. IBD and low grade gastrointestinal lymphoma are quite responsive to treatment. Occasionally more serious cancers are found.

 

An ultrasound may show increased thickness of the stomach or small intestinal wall indicating IBD or lymphoma. Occasionally another problem like a partial blockage or a solid cancer is found.

 

Unfortunately ultrasound does not distinguish between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and lymphoma. Biopsy samples of the stomach, small intestinal wall, abdominal lymph nodes, liver and pancreas obtained during abdominal surgery are the most accurate way of distinguishing them.

 

A veterinary pathologist looks at the biopsy sample under the microscope and determines if IBD or lymphoma is present and then classifies them. This information helps us make a treatment plan and predict the response to treatment.

 

Inflammatory bowel disease is caused by a chronically irritated stomach and intestinal lining. The inflammation is sometimes caused by an irritant in the food. Often the cat’s immune system overreacts to components of a normal diet. It is usually very difficult to identify the specific cause. The inflammation interferes with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Therefore cats with advanced disease lose weight and try to compensate with an increase in appetite. Treatment includes immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisolone, special diets and vitamin B12 injections. Often, cats get an initial short course of antiparasitic drugs and antibiotics to rule out other irritants of the intestine.

 

IBD is not a curable disease but proper treatment controls it and stops or slows the vomiting and weight loss. Overall, the prognosis is very good.

 

Low grade lymphoma is treated similarly but a low dose chemotherapy drug is added in. Many cats live for years with proper treatment.

 

If dietary intolerance, IBD or low grade lymphoma are left untreated higher grade bowel cancers may develop.

 

Snotty nose cats

Saturday, May 31, 2014

                                                                                                                                                                  Snotty-nosed and snuffly cats are difficult to live with.Their owners put up with sneezes and snot all over the house, as well as snuffles and grumbles all day and half the night.

The causes of sinusitis and rhinosinusitis are also difficult for vets to diagnose accurately and even more difficult to treat effectively.

Inflammation and infection spread rapidly from cats’ throats to adjacent structures, such as the middle ear, frontal sinuses, nose and tympanic bullae. These cavities are difficult to reach with medical or surgical treatments.

Feline mucus is also thicker than human mucus and medication has a hard time penetrating the mucus to get to the offending microbes.

Feline Herpesvirus is the most common initiating cause of chronic rhinitis and rhinosinusitis. It causes chronic airway inflammation and swelling, destroys the normal lining of the nasal cavity and upsets the normal mucus layers. The nasal cavity cannot remove foreign particles or the abnormal mucus and the sinuses become blocked. Bacteria leap in and set up infections making the situation even worse.

Drugs to reduce the mucus and the swelling in the sinuses help a bit. We treat the bacterial infection with antibiotics but are still left with Herpesvirus and all the damage it does. Herpesvirus sinusitis soon flares up into full blown bacterial sinusitis again. Some cats respond well to antiviral drugs but others keep getting intermittent sinusitis.

Nastier causes of similar signs are Cryptococcosis, a fungal disease, and cancer, commonly lymphoma, adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These are difficult to distinguish on X-ray but CT or MRI are very helpful, if they are available. A biopsy clears up any doubts. A blood test is available for Cryptococcosis.

Bad teeth and infected tooth roots sometimes make cats snuffly. A dental inspection and X-ray under general anaesthetic allow targeted and successful treatment.

Occasionally a cat breathes in a grass seed or other foreign body. Usually nasal discharge is from one side only and there is some bleeding.

 


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Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

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