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Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Overactive thyroid

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thyroid troubles

Thursday, August 09, 2018


Is your old cat ravenous - but losing weight no matter what you feed him? Often this is the first sign of an overactive thyroid gland. Many hyperthyroid cats are also more tetchy, demanding or restless than when they were younger. Observant carers might notice occasional vomiting or toileting outside the litter box. Some cats pant or don't look after their coats very well. Hyperthyroidism makes all body systems work harder including the heart, kidneys and bowels.

While all these signs individually might be put down to old age any one or more of them make our vets very suspicious of a thyroid nodule producing too much thyroxine - hyperthyroidism. Too much thyroxine accelerates aging and puts a strain on all the body's organs.

A capsule of Radioactive Iodine (RAI) in an otherwise healthy cat cures hyperthyroidism. To check if your cat is a candidate for RAI blood and urine is collected to confirm hyperthyroidism and check kidneys, liver and other organs.

If your cat has other problems like kidney disease then daily medication as a tablet or transdermal gel is easy and convenient.

Weight control

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

 

Sadly, over half of our patients are overweight and many of these are clinically obese. As little as an extra 1% of intake over caloric requirements can result in 25% excess bodyweight by middle age.

Overweight cats risk developing health issues like diabetes, arthritis, breathing difficulties, bladder problems, liver disease, decreased exercise and heat tolerance, and an overall compromised quality of life.

Obesity is caused by overeating and lack of    exercise. Indoor cats eat more and exercise less, often through boredom and lack of opportunities to play and hunt. It’s up to their carers to give them an appropriate amount of food, a good quality diet, and mental stimulation.

So how can we help our overweight cats to lose weight?


¨ Overweight cats lose weight most reliably on a high protein, low fat diet like Hill’s Metabolic diet

¨ Make sure everyone in the household knows the new feeding regime so that meals are not fed twice and treats are rationed

¨ Weigh the kibble allowance. An extra piece or two every day adds up

¨ Don’t allow free access to kibble

¨ Feed more wet food. A can Hill’s Metabolic is available and palatable

¨ Avoid fatty treats like cheese, liverwurst or pate. Hill’s Metabolic treats help control hunger by keeping you cat feeling full and satisfied between meals

¨ Make sure you overweight cat is not taking your other cats’ food or raiding the neighbours’ dog and cat food bowls!

It is vital to increase your cat’s opportunities to exercise. Cat towers, high shelves, window sills and a variety of toys on rotation out of the cupboard are a good start. Tunnels and hideouts made from cardboard boxes are cheap and  amusing. You can join in the fun with a fishing rod type toy or a length of ribbon or string, ping pong balls, scrunched up foil, or a laser light.

If possible install an outdoor cat enclosure so indoor lounge lizards can have a run and a stretch in the sun,

Food puzzle toys are ideal for plump pussy cats. They slow down food consumption, increase movement and mentally stimulate your cat.


Please book an appointment with our weight control nurses. They will help your cat achieve safe and effective weight loss. Too rapid weight loss in fat cats may cause liver damage. 

 

 

 

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 - or not?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

 

 

RIP Spunky

Spunky was a big boy and aptly named. He ruled the house and his carers' day centred on his every need - because he wouldn't let them forget his standards and requirements.

He often brought up a furball, so often that his carers just thought it was normal for him to bring one up every week or so. Six months ago it became more frequent and he started bringing up food as well. He seemed as bright, happy and demanding as ever so at first they thought nothing was wrong. After talking to us they tried out a few different foods, including a hypoallergenic diet, thinking that maybe something was interfering with his delicate digestion.

He vomited all the more and started to lose weight despite appearing normal. We tested him for all the usual causes of vomiting in cats - kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism - but everything came back normal. Something nasty was going on.

Dr John recommended biopsies of his stomach and intestines. His carers were reluctant to go so far and played with his diet a bit more. Eventually they decided that something must be done and he came in to hospital for an anaesthetic and investigation. Samples were sent to the pathologist.

The result was a diagnosis of low grade lymphoma of the intestines. This is the end result of chronic inflammation of the stomach and bowel.

The good news is that it can be controlled with low grade medication if caught early. Spunky lived another healthy 5 months, but the lymphoma spread to his stomach at the end. Many cats live much longer than 5 months. Some, especially if the lymphoma is advanced on diagnosis, have a more limited time to live.

If we diagnose the inflammatory bowel disease in the early stages we can prevent it from developing into lymphoma all together. Spunky's carers urge everyone to take notice of any 'furballs' or vomiting early on. Furballs are simply a sign that the stomach or intestine is inflamed - they are usually not because of the fur. If you see them more than once a fortnight, discuss it with your vet.

Kidney failure

Thursday, August 07, 2014

 

 

Signs of kidney failure don’t appear until at least 70% of kidney function is lost. The kidneys remove waste products from the blood stream, regulate fluid and electrolyte balance, maintain the acid-base balance of the body and remove toxins and drugs. They also help maintain blood pressure and stimulate blood cell production.


Kidney damage accumulates for years before we see any signs. Even then the early signs of kidney failure - increased thirst and urine production - are not easy to pinpoint in our feline friends.

 

You may notice an increasingly wet litter tray if your cat is only indoors. However if you have other cats you may not pick up increased urine production in a particular cat.

 

Cats often drink from multiple water sources making it difficult to recognise increased consumption. 

 

Other signs of kidney failure such as weight loss and poor coat quality are even more insidious.

 

Sometimes the first thing we see is a cat off her food, vomiting, depressed and dehydrated. The kidneys are already badly affected by this stage.

 

We diagnose and stage kidney failure with blood tests for the two waste products, urea and creatinine and a urine analysis to measure the kidneys ability to concentrate urine. We also check the urine for protein loss or a urinary tract infection.

 

Tests for other substances like potassium, phosphorus and calcium as well as blood cell counts help us decide on the best course of treatment.

 

Annual blood and urine tests, as well as regular body weight checks, help pick kidney failure up as early as possible. If urine concentrating ability is deteriorating, your cat is losing weight or the creatinine is trending up we slow the progression of the disease with a special kidney protective diet. Many cats in the early stages of kidney disease live for years on the right diet and with regular checks.

Diabetes

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Cats with diabetes have high blood glucose levels. This is caused by a deficiency of insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas. 

Under the influence of insulin the body takes glucose up from the blood and uses it as an energy source.

Diabetes mellitus is mostly seen in older cats and is more common in males than females. Obese cats and Burmese cats are more commonly affected.

Diabetic cats produce more urine and, to compensate for this, drink more. This may not be obvious if the cat goes outdoors and has access to pools of water.  Some cats urinate outside the tray after being litter trained for years.  Indoor cats saturate the litter rapidly.

Many cats lose weight despite an increase in appetite.

A history of drinking and urinating more, a good appetite and weight loss suggests diabetes.  Your vet will test for high blood glucose and the presence of glucose in the urine. Stress may also cause a transient rise in glucose levels in cats so your cat may be admitted to hospital for a day for a series of blood glucose tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Untreated diabetes eventually causes loss of appetite and lethargy.

Cats with diabetes mellitus are treated with insulin injectionsWeight loss in obese cats can sometimes lead to remission of the diabetes.  Stopping drugs such as prednisolone may also resolve the condition.

Treatment for most cats involves a twice daily injection of insulin. They feel little pain because only a very fine needle is used. Usually insulin is given 12 hours apart at the same time as a meal.

Unlike diabetic humans or dogs diabetic cats require a low carbohydrate diet, high protein diet.  Specially formulated diets such as Hills m/d are low in carbohydrate and high in protein and ideal for diabetic cats.  Many small meals or grazing are fine as long as the cat is not overweight.

How to keep those kilos off...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cats lose weight mainly by reduced food intake, but increased physical activity (even in cats!) is also of crucial importance.

Earlier this month we discussed organising your cat's environment to promote weight loss.

Researchers from the University of Ilinois have also found that increasing the frequency of meals per day (while still keeping portions small) and adding water to those meals also promoted more physical activity in cats.

 


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A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

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

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