Blog News

August 7, 2014

Furballs and vomiting

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.
August 5, 2014

Free dental check in Dental Health Month

August is dental health month at Canberra Cat Vet! Bring your pet in for a free dental check this month and learn how to keep your cat’s mouth and teeth clean and healthy. Dental health is essential to overall health in our cats. 4 out of 5 cats live with some level of dental disease, infection and pain but are very good at hiding it from us. Make sure your cat is happy, healthy and pain free. Phone 6251 1444 to make an appointment for a free dental check during August, Canberra Cat Vet's dental month. (Thanks Bungles for showing us your beautiful teeth!)
August 5, 2014

Diabetes

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 injections. Weight 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.