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3 Big Nutrition Messages for Cat Guardians

Sadly, estimates are that over half of kitty companions over the age of 10 suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is also referred to as chronic renal disease or chronic renal failure. There are many causes of CKD in cats, but one of the most common and preventable influences is a dry food diet.

Cats are designed to meet most or all of their body’s moisture requirements through their diet, not at the water bowl, so they don’t have the desire to drink water the same way other species do. Kibble provides a very small percentage of the water cats need in a daily diet.

Kitties fed an exclusively dry diet suffer chronic mild dehydration that causes significant stress to kidneys over time. As Dr. Lisa Pierson, a feline-only practitioner and cat nutrition expert, writes at her fabulous CatInfo.org website, “It is troubling to think about the role that chronic dehydration may play in causing or exacerbating feline kidney disease.”

Dr. Pierson’s Big Three Nutrition Messages for Cat Guardians

Dr. Pierson realizes that feline nutrition can be overwhelming for cat guardians, and tries to keep things simple. Her recommendations are based on what a cat would eat in the wild – a mouse, bird, lizard, or some other small animal.

  1. Feed a diet that’s high in moisture.
    Dry food (kibble) is cooked to only maintain 5-10% moisture, whereas a bird or mouse is around 70% moisture. When a cat is fed a dry food, they don’t make up that deficit at the water bowl.
    Now, many people say, “but my cat drinks a lot of water.” Studies of cats on all-canned food diets vs all-dry food diets show that cats eating canned food (which has a very high water content) rarely went to the water bowl, yet they consumed double the amount of moisture as cats eating kibble. The kibble fed cats did not demonstrate a high enough thirst drive to make up the water deficit at the water bowl. A water-rich diet, like canned or raw food, is the first key to a healthy diet.
  2. Feed your cat a diet that’s animal-protein rich.
    Cats are obligate carnivores, and must get their dietary protein from animals, not plants. When we look at a can of cat food, we want to see that the protein is coming from animals – chicken, beef, etc. – and not from plants like corn, wheat, soy, or rice.
  3. Avoid carbohydrates.
    Cats aren’t designed to eat carbohydrates. A bird or a mouse is a very high-protein, moderate-fat meal, with maybe a percent or two of carbs on a dry matter basis. So diets containing more carbs aren’t appropriate for cats.

It’s also important to remember that although high-protein, low carb dry cat foods are flooding the market these days, they are inappropriate diets for cats because they’re water depleted. Many cats suffer from Urinary Tract Disease, and it is caused by urethral obstructions from a water-depleted diet. Cats on water-rich diets can develop UTIs as well, but it’s extremely rare.

What’s the Scoop on Prescription Diets?

Once a cat is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, many veterinarians recommend a prescription “renal diet,” many of which are dry kibble. These formulas do not meet the dietary hydration requirements of cats, especially kitties who are losing large amounts of water due to worn out kidneys.

“I must say that I find it truly amazing when I hear about the very large numbers of cats receiving subcutaneous fluids while being maintained on a diet of dry food,” writes Pierson. “This is an extremely illogical and unhealthy practice and every attempt should be made to get these cats on a diet that contains a higher moisture content.”

Prescription renal diets also typically have reduced levels of protein, which is not ideal for cats, who are obligate (strict) carnivores requiring high levels of quality animal protein for optimal health. According to Pierson:

“Renal diets restrict protein to the point that many cats – those that are not consuming enough of the diet to provide their daily protein calorie needs – will catabolize (use for fuel) their own muscle mass which results in muscle wasting and weight loss.”

Pierson also points out that interestingly, there’s no FDA oversight of prescription pet diets. They oversee drugs, but these diets are marketed as “prescription,” when there’s nothing in them that requires a prescription. Clinical trials aren’t performed before these foods go on the market, and could be formulated in a far healthier manner if these “prescriptions” underwent much closer scrutiny.

Why Veterinarians Recommend Prescription Diets

Dr. Pierson focuses on helping cat owners formulate diets that are customized to that cat’s individual needs. She says that it’s extremely common that people are hesitant to feed a wet food rather than the “prescription” food another veterinarian recommends. Her clients are commonly led to believe that the only diet option for a kidney sensitive kitty is a prescription diet.

Pierson says that unfortunately, veterinarians are extremely busy trying to keep up with their continuing education, and nutrition is typically not very interesting to most of them. It’s much easier for a vet with a feline kidney patient to simply grab the “prescription” diet off the shelf. There isn’t a lot of critical thought going into nutrition for pets.

Switching Your Cat to a Better Diet

The transition to wet or raw food from kibble can be surprisingly difficult. Cats that have eaten dry food for most of their lives can become addicted to it. And cats, unlike dogs, will literally starve themselves if you aren’t feeding what they prefer.ca

Dr. Pierson refers her clients to the page on her website called Transitioning Dry Food Addicts to Canned Food. She encourages cat guardians to have patience, as it took her three months to get her own kibble addicts to switch to canned food.

If you’re first getting started, try a variety of proteins and textures in wet food. See if you can get your cat to respond positively to one or more, and gradually transition to an all-wet diet. And remember – patience, patience, and more patience!

 

6 Solutions to Shedding

You love your cat, but you don’t love all the hair on your carpets, upholstery and your best suit. These holistic approaches to excessive shedding will keep her healthier and you happier. From Feline Wellness.

“Some days it seems like my cat flings fur at my black coat like a porcupine flings quills,” Judith says. “He’s mostly white, so it really shows up and it’s very hard to get off.”

Every cat sheds, but if yours seems to be losing an excessive amount of fur, it’s time to do a little investigating. Too much hair loss can be a symptom of an underlying problem. Genetics, illness, poor nutrition, environmental toxins and stress all play a role in your cat’s overall health, and can affect the condition of her coat.

1. First of all, a trip to the veterinarian for a check-up is in order. The vet will look for hormonal or thyroid problems and will check for fleas and other parasites. Blood tests may not pinpoint the answer but could rule out a number of causes. Holistic practitioners look at the big picture. Some, like veterinarian Dr. Paul McCutcheon, can analyze your cat’s hair to see if there are heavy metal or mineral imbalances in his body. This non-invasive procedure can reveal information from the past three or four months.

2. Try a change of diet. If your cat has been eating the same food for years, he may have become sensitive to one or more of the ingredients, causing allergy, skin issues and excessive shedding. Read the labels on all foods. Look for ingredients you recognize – chicken or other meats should be listed first. Key words to avoid are by-products, ground meal, gluten, artificial colors, corn and wheat. Foods made with natural ingredients and few or no fillers or grains are much healthier than cheap commercial foods. Premium packaged foods, raw or home-cooked diets are best. “The diet should be changed slowly,” says Jodi Ziskin, holistic nutritionist and wellness consultant. “Start with 75% of the current food mixed in with 25% of the new. Every couple of days add more of the new and less of the old. The process can take two or three weeks. During this time, the body will be going through a detox or ‘healing crisis.’ Your cat may shed a bit more as her body rids itself of toxins. This can last for several days but when it’s over, your cat will have a shiny, healthy coat.”

3. Make sure your cat gets enough water. Most cats get needed fluids from their food, not the water bowl. A wet diet is preferable to one that’s entirely dry. You might want to try a dehydrated or freeze-dried food with the proper balance of meat and vegetables (about 90% meat, 10% vegetables and fruits). Rehydrating helps add needed water to the diet. Also make sure your cat has 24/7 access to fresh, filtered water.

4. When your cat’s shedding problem is food related, he may need supplements to jump start his improvement. “Add an Omega 3 oil to whatever diet you choose,” says Jodi. “There are wild salmon oils on the market, made for cats and dogs, or you can use cod liver oil, organic first cold pressed flaxseed oil, or borage oil. Another wonderful oil that is becoming quite popular is emu oil. It can be used both internally and externally.” These oils help improve skin and coat health.

5. Environmental factors can affect your cat’s coat health. Fabric softener, laundry soap, floor wax or carpet shampoo, air fresheners, candles, bath soap or body lotions can trigger an allergic reaction in your cat that may lead to skin problems and excess shedding. Paint, new carpet, glue, and even new cat toys might also contribute to the hairy problem. Try to use as many non-toxic household cleaners, building materials and personal care products as you can.

6. Stress is another culprit. “Look at everything,” says veterinarian Dr. McCutcheon. “Routine checkups will not uncover stress problems that may be emotional, environmental or a product of a poor diet.” A child moving away from home for the first time can stress your cat just as much as an obvious reason like thunder or fireworks. And a stray cat seen through the window has stressed many an indoor cat. Identify potential stressors and either eliminate or minimize them.

If your cat has been eating the same food for years, he may have become sensitive to one or more of the ingredients, causing allergy, skin issues and excessive shedding.

Even if you think you see a smirk on your cat’s face as her white hair coats your black pants, excessive shedding is not a planned event but a symptom of a larger problem. Finding the cause and implementing some changes will help keep your clothes and carpets free of fur, while improving her overall well being.

How to Care for Orphaned Kittens

Caring for Kittens Without a Mother

If the kittens are under four weeks old, they need to be housed in a way that keeps them safe and warm, and they need to be bottle-fed until they are big enough to graduate first to gruel, then solid food. The tips here from Moderncat.com will help you set up a cozy and safe home for the kittens and will let you know what to expect in those first weeks.
A warm kitten is a healthy kitten

7220144234_e997f1c014_bKeep kittens warm. A dog crate or kennel is a good choice of enclosure for keeping the kittens safe and contained, as well as for monitoring the temperature. This is important because keeping kittens warm is crucial. Janice Dankert, Best Friends community cat program supervisor, explains, “When kittens are cold, their bodily functions quit working.” If any of the kittens are limp or minimally responsive, or are cool or cold to the touch, this is indicative of an emergency situation – you should provide heat to the kitten and take him or her to the vet right away.

Best Friends veterinarian Dr. Patti Patterson recommends keeping the room temperature above 75 degrees or so. Kittens also need constant heat by way of a heating pad, without an automatic shutoff, set on low. Trielle Gritton, senior manager of adoptions and outreach at Best Friends Animal Society–Utah, says, “The heating pad should be covered in cloth – old towels, throws or blankets work well. And it should only cover half the enclosure so the kittens can move away from it.” An alternative to a heating pad is a microwaveable disc (called SnuggleSafe) made just for keeping pets warm.

Regular monitoring is important to ensure the kittens aren’t too hot or cold. Dr. Patti says, “If the kittens feel cold to the touch, they’re too cold. They should feel toasty warm, but if they are panting or seem to be stretched out away from each other, this may indicate too much heat – you can turn down the heating pad or open the top of the dog crate to allow the area to cool down.”

Trielle adds, “It is also very important to remember that a kitten should never be fed cold formula, and they should never be fed if they are cold.”

Feeding time

“Kittens need to be bottle-fed formula until they’re about four weeks old, and then they can280501585_0c8f5413c2 begin to wean,” says Trielle. If you have found the kittens after the pet supply store has closed for the day, you can use goat’s milk as a stopgap, but this should not be used for an extended period of time. Kitten formula, bottles, rubber nipples, and cleaning supplies are available at most pet supply stores, and even many grocery stores. Follow the instructions carefully on the formula package to ensure proper mixing and handling.

Trielle says, “It is important to note that kittens should never be fed on their backs, but their bellies should always touch the floor (or other surface) when being bottle-fed.” Best Friends veterinarian Dr. Patti Patterson recommends allowing the kittens to eat until satiated. On average, it should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to properly feed each kitten at every stage until weaned.

Kittens also need help eliminating (going to the bathroom) until they are about three to four weeks old. To do this, use a warm, damp washcloth to gently massage the anal area until they go. This should be done every time you feed each kitten. A litter box with only non-clumping litter can be introduced when kittens are about three weeks of age. Kittens will not have solid stool while still drinking formula.

 

Brookside Barkery and Bath has a list of recommended shelters in the Kansas City area if you are needing assistance with an orphaned kitten.

The Best Food Options for Your Cat’s Longevity

Want your cat to maintain her kittenish traits well into her senior years? Here’s how to tailor your senior cat’s diet to ensure she’s as spry and sprightly on her 14th birthday as she was on her first. From Modern Cat Magazine. Also, on your next visit to the Barkery, ask one of our knowledgeable associates about the best foods for your pets.

The senior years can be a wonderful time for cats (all those naps in rays of sunshine!), especially if we maximize their health through smart strategies surrounding nutrition. If your senior is starting to show some of the common signs of aging, perhaps experiencing some challenges surrounding mobility, appetite, skin and coat, changes in weight, or mental alertness, give her a little nutritional boost by tailoring her diet and supplements to her specific needs.

Choosing a Food for Your Senior Cat

It’s time to re-evaluate what you are feeding your cat when she begins to show signs of aging. The average lifespan for a cat is 14 – 17 years and cats are typically considered seniors when they reach 10 years of age. Just like people, senior cats have different nutrient requirements than their younger, more active counterparts. Older cats are more prone to diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, cancer, and urinary tract crystals, and while diet alone may not prevent disease from developing, it can certainly help ward it off or fight it.

First off, a senior cat requires fewer daily calories. Many of the commercially available foods designed specifically for senior cats are lower in calories to help keep your cat in good shape. Extra weight is hard on cats, particularly seniors, and exacerbates all manner of existing conditions—or causes them! Secondly, cats do best on foods that are high in moisture (canned or homemade) as they typically do not consume enough water (the old adage holds true!). Kibble is, however, better at keeping teeth clean, so give your cat a bit of kibble as a treat or add it into their dinner; that, coupled with regular teeth brushing, will help to maintain their dental health.

Changes in Body Weight: Gain vs. Loss

Keeping your cat at a healthy weight has a big impact on her overall health. Excess weight puts extra strain on a cat’s body, can contribute to a decrease in immune function, and is hard on their organs. Cats that are too thin can have similar problems. Without any body reserves they may have poor skin and coat, immunity problems, and very little buffer if they do become sick. Fortunately, our cats’ weight is one of the few things we as guardians have control over. You can limit portion size for the chubby feline, and provide more tempting fare for the too thin. A decrease in a cat’s sense of smell, something that happens to many animals as they age, may result in eating less. For an underweight cat, try warming his food, or adding a small amount of stinky stuff like fish oil to help entice the too thin cat to eat. Provided your cat is not ill, a decrease in his appetite may be the result of bad teeth. Broken, worn down, or infected teeth or gum disease can make eating unpleasant for cats. If you suspect this is the case, book an appointment with your vet. Veterinary dentistry is quite advanced and can help to make your cat more comfortable. As your senior starts to slow down, you may find that he doesn’t need as much food at he once did. Keep an eye on your cat’s body condition and adjust his portion size as needed.

As cats age, their digestive tracts can lose some of their function. As a result, food that your cat was once doing well on can prove less digestible now that she is older. For starters, avoid foods containing by-product meals as they can be less digestible. Also, senior cats require more protein than younger cats, so choose a senior cat food with high quality digestible protein sources, such as chicken meal, fish meal, turkey meal or beef meal. Avoid “meat meal;” good quality foods identify their protein sources—no mystery meats for our cats! Though there has been some concern that geriatric cats should not consume high protein cat foods because of the theoretical risk of high dietary protein causing kidney damage, there is no evidence to support this concern in healthy older cats. That said, many geriatric cats often have underlying kidney problems, so consult your veterinarian before switching to a higher protein diet as a high protein diet could exacerbate an existing condition. Once given the all clear, switch to the high protein diet.

L-Carnitine

Carnitine is an amino acid that is required for fat metabolism, as Dr. Oz devotees will know. Under normal conditions, cats do not require carnitine supplemented in their diet, but as cats age or if they are prone to obesity, they may develop a requirement for this amino acid. As such, many cat foods already have carnitine in their formulations. If you are feeding a homemade diet, you can add carnitine to your cat’s diet, 15mg capsule for every cup of food.

Mobility, Arthritis, and Pain Relief

An often overlooked challenge facing geriatric cats is a loss of mobility. It can prove to be a vicious cycle: loss of mobility leads to weight gain which then results in greater loss of mobility. This is a very difficult cycle to break. The loss in mobility could be due to joint pain, loss of muscle mass or increased body fat. Since cats don’t get the same type of exercise that dogs do, it may more difficult to spot a loss in mobility. Look for signs such as sleepiness, less play or activity, irritability when handled, or loss of good litter box habits. If your cat has arthritis, there are several things that you can do to help. The first step is a pain management consultation with your veterinarian. There are some veterinary arthritis pain management options available to our cats that can help greatly. But it’s important to note that cats cannot take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory), such as Advil (ibuprofen), Tylenol (acetaminophen) or aspirin without careful veterinary supervision. These drugs can cause serious life threatening side effects in cats. The second step is to consider feeding your cat one of the many nutritional supplements that have been shown to help reduce pain and increase mobility such as omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and green lipped mussel.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3’s are a wonder supplement because they reduce inflammation. Inflammation is what causes pain and swelling, which in turn reduces mobility for our cats. There are some joint supplements that contain high omega-3 fatty acids, but you can also supplement your cat’s diet with fish oil or sustainable marine algae-derived omega-3s such as DHA Gold (dhagold.com) mixed directly into their food.

Glucosamine & Chondroitin: Glucosamine and chondroitin were thought to be very good supplements for relieving arthritis pain and increasing mobility, however, over the test of time, research has suggested that they are very poorly bioavailable to the body. As a result, glucosamine and chondroitin are better used as injectable rather than dietary supplements. There are injectable products on the market that have been proven to be very beneficial in increasing mobility in dogs and horses that may have benefits for cats as well; your veterinarian should be able to advise you on what is available in your area. If you would like to use a dietary supplement, oral glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are considered safe. Glycoflex (Vetri-Science) and Cosequin (Nutramax Laboratories) are both good supplements.

Green Lipped Mussel (GLM): GLM is a natural product that has been clinically proven to improve mobility in dogs, and is something that may be equally effective for cats. GLM contains omega-3 fatty acids and is thought to contain other antioxidants as well as glucosamine. The dose of GLM should make up 0.3 percent of your cat’s normal food (or about 0.3g GLM/cup of cat food). Many joint supplements already contain GLM and are available from your veterinarian or online pharmacies. Be aware that many of the supplements that are sold in pet food stores do not contain enough of the active ingredients to prove effective, so read the label carefully and be prepared to do your homework before buying supplements.

Skin and Coat Health/Hair Loss

Hair loss or changes in skin and coat are often a normal part of aging. As the skin ages it produces less oil so your cat’s coat may appear dry and flaky. Changes in coat condition can also be the result of your cat not grooming as much as he used to when younger. You may need to groom your cats a little more as they age; this will help to stimulate the oil glands, encourage new skin cells to grow, and take out old dead hair. To keep your senior’s skin and coat in top condition, make sure that your cat consumes enough omega-3 fatty acids, which help improve the integrity of skin and reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fat can be found in trout and salmon. Mackerel and herring are also very good sources but they are higher in mercury than farm-raised fish. Other sources of omega-3 fat include fish oil capsules, flax oil or flax meal, and walnuts. Dry flaky skin can also be a sign of disease, so if you haven’t taken your cat to the vet for a check-up in the past year it might be time to make an appointment.

Vitamin E can also be very beneficial to skin health. Do note that the body can store large amounts of Vitamin E so it is important not to over supplement. Safer is to add dietary sources of Vitamin E; wheat germ and corn contain the highest amounts of Vitamin E but other good sources include peanuts, eggs, fish (many fish oil capsules contain added Vitamin E), and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; play around with adding tidbits of these to your cat’s dinner.

Dietary Help For Chronic Disease Conditions

As cats age they are prone to developing kidney problems, hyperthyroidism, and type 2 diabetes. These diseases are medical conditions and need a proper diagnosis from your veterinarian before making decisions about feeding cats with these conditions.

Diets for Kidney Disease

The kidneys are responsible for a number of vital functions. If the kidneys start to fail, these functions are no longer performed. Signs you may see in a cat with kidney disease include increased trips to the litter box, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased water intake. There are diets available from your veterinarian that can help limit the amount of work the kidneys have to do as well as correct some of the imbalances caused by the failing kidney. Diets designed for the management of kidney disease are low in protein, have a low level of phosphorus, and an increased level of calcium-soluble fibre and fat. Adjusting the levels of these nutrients eases the work load on the kidneys.

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland over produces thyroid hormone, causing hyperactivity, weight loss, loss of litter box habits, diarrhea, excessive water intake and urination, and increased heart rate. There are many treatments for hypothyroidism, including simply managing the condition by diet change alone, though this approach requires the cat NOT to go outside nor consume any treats that contain iodine. Feeding a diet with less iodine decreases the amount of hormone produced by the thyroid and therefore reduces the symptoms of the disease.

Veterinary Diet Y/D is the only diet on the market clinically proven to treat hyperthyroidism in cats. It contains very little Iodine, which is normally required by dogs and cats—just not hyperthyroid ones.

Diets for Diabetes

Older, overweight cats often have diabetes. The number one thing you can do to help a diabetic cat is to help them lose weight. Initiating weight loss in cats is challenging but it will help your cat live a longer, healthier life. Using food puzzles and changing your cat’s diet can help with achieving weight loss goals. It is very important that cats do not go on a starvation diet; cats (especially chubby ones) are prone to developing fatty liver, a life threatening disease that can occur when an overweight cat does not eat for a couple of days. Cats must eat at least once every 24 hours in order to prevent fatty liver. Further complicating matters is that cats faced with sudden diet change often refuse to eat, thus risking fatty liver, so go slowly. Offer the new food separately from old food (in a different dish) and gradually reduce the serving size of the old food.

Diets designed for managing diabetes have higher protein and fiber and limited sources of starch to keep the glycemic index of the food low. These diets also have chromium added to the diets, which helps normalize blood glucose. Cats tend to like these foods so it shouldn’t be hard to switch to a diabetic diet. Remember, as with humans, the key to successful management of diabetes is diet control (including portion), exercise (use food puzzles), and medical monitoring of blood sugar.

Changes in Cognitive Function

Just like people, cats can experience age-related changes in brain function. The signs of cognitive dysfunction tend to occur after 10 years of age and can include changes in sleep patterns (ie sleeping more or less or at different times), vocalization (meowing or yowling loudly in the middle of the night); disorientation (getting lost in the house or outside), lack of interest (in play or people), staring off into space, or changes in litter box habits. Many of these changes can be attributed to chronic disease so it is important to get your cat to the vet for a diagnosis of feline cognitive dysfunction. Unfortunately, there has been less research into feline cognitive dysfunction than canine cognitive dysfunction, but if we borrow from canine research, increasing the amount of antioxidants that your cat is consuming may help. Additionally, feeding your cat a little extra salmon, herring or mackerel to increase the amount of Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids they consume may prove beneficial. Your veterinarian can provide you with more information on feline cognitive dysfunction.

Eyesight

As cats age, they can develop cataracts and experience changes in eyesight. Your vet can tell you whether your cat has any of these changes in their eyes. There are surgical options for treating cataracts as well as some easy things we can do that may help prevent or slow the progression of age-related changes in eyesight. In humans it is thought that prolonged, continued exposure (i.e. years) to direct sunlight can contribute to cataract formation, so if your house gets a lot of direct sunlight all day long then limiting the amount of sunbathing your cat does per day may help prevent cataracts. Increasing the amount of lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid, in your cat’s diet may also be helpful. Lutein is found in green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach), egg yolks, and corn, and has been found to improve eyesight in humans, so it may be helpful in preventing eyesight problems in cats.

In general, you can’t go wrong with adding omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to your senior cat’s diet. A good fish oil supplement and the addition of fresh fruits and vegetables can definitely have a favourable effect on your senior cat’s health. Felines are notoriously fussy eaters so endeavouring to find the fruits and veggies your cat enjoys may prove frustrating, but it is worth the effort. Being persistent and offering little pieces of new foods to your cat can pay off in the long run. Often you’ll have to try introducing the new food several times before your cat decides to eat it. The best time to try out new foods? When your cat is hungry! Like us, a hungry cat is more motivated to try new things. Colourful fruits and veggies are likely to have the most benefits, so try introducing blueberries, raspberries, spinach, carrots, and tomatoes, but be careful not to upset your cat’s stomach with these additions; go slowly, trying out just a bit at a time until you find fruits and vegetables that your cat enjoys and tolerates. Just make sure the extras don’t make up more than 10 percent of your cat’s diet; remember, it doesn’t take much to make a difference for them! Go forth in good health.

Top 10 Cat Conditions

Cats are experts at hiding illness and injury – that’s why it’s important to pay attention to small signs that something may be wrong. On the other hand, sometimes symptoms are present but we are baffled as to what is actually wrong. Cats may have nine lives, but you want to make sure kitty hangs on to all of them for as long as she can. No matter how much love and care you give your furry companion, things happen. But by knowing how to recognize the most common conditions affecting cats, you may just be able to save your pet’s life.

 Here are the top 10 most common conditions in felines – from Pet 360

10. Hyperthyroidism The most likely cause of hyperthyroidism is a benign tumor on the thyroid gland, which will cause the gland to secrete too much of the hormone. Take your cat to the vet if it starts drinking and peeing a lot, shows aggressive and jittery behavior, suddenly seems hyperactive, vomits and/or loses weight while eating more than usual.

Treatment depends on other medical conditions but can range from using drugs to regulate the overactive gland, surgical removal of the gland, and even radioactive treatment to destroy the tumor and diseased thyroid tissue.

9. Upper Respiratory Virus If your kitty is sneezing, sniffling, coughing, has runny eyes or nose, seems congested and has mouth and nose ulcers, chances are it has an upper respiratory virus. The two main forms of the virus are the feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Once at the vet’s office, the cat may receive nose drops, eye ointments and antibacterial medication, especially if it has a secondary infection.

8. Ear Infection Ear infections in cats have many causes. These might include mites, bacteria, fungi, diabetes, allergies and reactions to medication; some breeds are also more susceptible to ear infections than others. So it’s definitely a good idea to have your kitty checked if it’s showing symptoms such as ear discharge, head shaking, swollen ear flaps, stinky ears and ultra sensitivity to ears being touched. Treatment, of course, depends on the cause, but will include eardrops, ear cleaning, ear and oral medications and in severe cases, surgery.

7. Colitis/Constipation Colitis is a fancy word for inflammation of the large intestine. While the most obvious sign of colitis is diarrhea, sometimes it will hurt the cat to poop. Thus, in trying to hold it in, the cat may develop constipation.

There are many causes of colitis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, allergies and parasites, among other diseases. Signs include straining to poop, lack of appetite, dehydration and vomiting. Your vet will test for the underlying cause and treat it accordingly. This may include a more fiber-rich diet, de-worming, antibiotics, laxatives and/or fluids.

6. Diabetes Like humans, cats suffer from diabetes, too, though this is usually seen in older, overweight cats. Symptoms include increased thirst and peeing, peeing outside the litter box, lethargy and depression.

While causes of feline diabetes are not really known, there is a link with diabetes and being overweight. Treatment, therefore, includes daily health monitoring, diet changes, exercise, and depending on the cat’s needs, either daily oral medications or injections.

senior-cat-thinkstock-463675029-335sm37145. Skin Allergies Kitties, like you, are known to suffer from allergies, although their allergies show on the skin. If your cat scratches, or chews on its skin a lot, has a rash or loses hair in patches, a trip to the vet is a good idea.

Causes of skin allergies vary from reactions to food, fleas, pollens, mites, and even mold and mildew. Treatments may include allergy shots, diet changes, medication and antihistamines.

4. Intestinal Inflammation/Diarrhea Diarrhea is a sure sign of an intestinal inflammation. It affects either the cat’s small or large intestine and may due to a variety of factors, including diet changes, eating contraband foodstuffs, allergies, bacteria overgrowth, worms and even kidney disease.

Symptoms include diarrhea, lack of appetite and vomiting. A visit to your vet will sort out the cause, and treatment may include hydration therapy, a bland diet, dietary changes and anti-diarrhea medications.

3. Renal Failure This is a serious condition, which is common in older cats. While the underlying causes are not yet understood, recent research suggests a link with distemper vaccinations and long-term dry food diets. Make sure you request blood tests on your regular wellness checkups, since symptoms often don’t show up until 75 percent of the kidney tissue is damaged.

The main symptom is excessive thirst and peeing, but the cat may also show signs of drooling, jaw-clicking, and ammonia-scented breath. While it’s not curable, renal failure (when not severe) can be managed through diet, drugs and hydration therapy. Kidney transplants and dialysis can also be used.

2. Stomach Upsets (Gastritis) An inflammation of the cat’s stomach lining is simply referred to as gastritis. This condition may be mild or severe, but regardless of its type, make sure you bring your cat to visit the vet if it doesn’t show improvement in a day or two, or if the symptoms are severe.

Gastritis has many causes, from eating spoiled food to eating too fast to allergies or bacterial infections. If your cat is vomiting, belching, has a lack of appetite or bloodstained poop or diarrhea, a visit to the vet will help straighten things out. Treatments depend on the cause, but generally include medication, fluid therapy and even antibiotics.

1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease Coming in at No. 1, lower urinary tract disease can turn very quickly into a life-threatening illness for your cat, especially if there’s a blockage caused by crystals, stones or plugs. When total blockage occurs, death can occur within 72 hours if left untreated.

Therefore, whisk your cat off to the vet or emergency center ASAP if you see any of the following signs: peeing outside of the litter box, straining, blood in urine, crying out while attempting to pee, not being able to pee, excessive licking of genitals, not eating or drinking, yowling while moving and lethargy. These signs will generally occur regardless if the urinary tract disease is due to stones, infection or urethral plugs. Treatment includes catheterizing to drain the bladder, medication to dissolve stones or blockages, and in recurring cases, surgery.

Treating Your Cat the Healthy Way

Great tips from Pet360.com on treating your cat

Cat owners show cats their love by giving treats as well as affection. While your everyday cat treats are basically empty calories and should be kept to a minimum, there are some special types of cat treats available that will give your cat a bit of supplemental nutrition.

Targeting Your Cat’s Specific Needs

You may be wondering what sort of cat treats your furry friend could possibly benefit from?

  • Weight Control/Loss: If your cat is overweight, look for treats made to be low in fat and calories and high in fiber.
  • Joint Care: If your older cat is slowing down and has trouble getting around, providing him with some extra ingredients for joint care (i.e., glucosamine and chondroitin) is now common practice. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can also be added to cat treats to help reduce inflammation and soothe painful joints.
  • Dental Care/Bad Breath: Tartar buildup in the mouth can cause some serious halitosis in cats. Cat treats in this category have special chemicals or textures designed to help break down plaque and tartar. This can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your cat’s mouth, and thus the offensive odor.
  • Skin Health/Hair: Cats that have dry, flaky skin and rough, brittle hair can benefit from added omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their daily diets. These fatty acids can come from flaxseed, fish oil, or other natural sources.
  • Digestive Health: If your cat has issues with a touchy digestive tract (irritable bowel or colitis), providing some extra fiber and/or beneficial probiotics/prebiotics might help to balance things out. Some ingredients you might see in these kinds of cat treats include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), yogurt, chicory, Brewer’s yeast and beet pulp.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Functional Cat Treats

While these functional ingredients can certainly provide some benefits, there’s always a chance of giving your cat too much of a good thing. Even though these cat treats are considered “healthy” and do provide added nutrition to your cat’s diet, it is best not to overdo it. Be sure to read the package to find out the correct amount to give based on your cat’s weight and consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your cat’s health.

We have several cat treats and cat food that fit perfectly to each of the above cat needs. Stop in and chat with one of our friendly staff members today!

 

Health and Nutrition for Senior Cats

A proper diet is more important than ever as our pets begin to age

Did you know that you should start your cat on a senior balanced diet starting at age 7?

According to a recent article from the ASPCA this will help to maintain a healthy weight, along with slowing or preventing the development of chronic disease. You will also minimize or improve clinical signs of diseases that may already be present.

Health issues that the article mentions may arise along the way:

  • Deterioration of skin and coat
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • More frequent intestinal problems
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Dental problems
  • Decreased ability to fight off infection

The article goes on to discuss the importance of muscle mass and vitamin intake in order to maintain a healthy cat. You can read more about health and nutrition for your aging cat by clicking here, and as always, feel free to stop in and chat with a knowledgeable Barkery team member for expert advice.