Cat Scratch Fever aka Bartonella

six cute kitten in a row

There has been a lot in the news lately about bartonella (aka cat scratch disease) and kittens. Bartonella is spread from cat to cat by fleas and ticks.  The bacteria can then be spread to people via cat scratches and bites. (Please see the National Veterinary Lab for more information regarding the spread of bartonella to humans.)

Cats with flea infestations are more likely to be infected with bartonella as are those coming from a shelter or found in the street. A simple blood test of your furry friend will enable us to diagnose bartonella.

Bartonella can cause inflammation in any tissue of the body; i.e. the mouth, skin or internal organs. Bartonella positive cats have been found to have oral inflammatory disease, upper respiratory and ocular diseases just to name a few.

If your cat is infected, we can prescribe antibiotics to rid the bartonella. Treating bartonella has many benefits, for example It has been found that a diabetic cat treated for bartonella can resolve the need for insulin therapy. Testing for bartonella is easy. It can put your mind at ease and help keep your kitty healthy if treatment is needed.

Why Indoor Is Best for your Kitty

cats by windowA domestic cat’s ancestors are fierce predators, stalking the forests, plains, and jungles for the hunt. Their majestic figures moving silently through the brush, keeping low to the ground and staying hidden from their quarry. Great paws pad silently, and then they stop, and with a great leap, they give chase.
We see similar behaviors in our domestic cats – the stalking, the bum wiggle, and the pounce! But these cats are not the great wild cats – they are domesticated, and as such it is best to keep them indoors. Many of the cats that are rescued are taken in off the streets, and though it may seem cruel to keep a former stray indoors, it is always safer. Not only is it safer for your pet it prevents your cat from hunting and killing the birds that reside in your yard and neighborhood.

There are too many threats that they would face in the open, especially in a city. Between rats, fleas/ticks, cars, the elements, and the general lack of nutrition, the odds are quite stacked against them. Many feel guilty for keeping their cats indoors. Please don’t. Keep in mind that with proper enrichment, these cats can become quite happy at home. What is enrichment? Enrichment is more of an all-encompassing term for keeping a cat mentally stimulated. Cats can get bored just like people, and so it is important to engage them in activities that allow them to use their instincts, and to provide an environment for them that allows them to climb, jump, even hide.

One of the most important things for cats is to make sure that they have a place to hide that is high up – like a tall cat tree or a shelf they can reach. Living in New York City, this can be especially challenging as many people do not necessarily have the space for a cat tree. Thankfully, there are now wall-mounted cat habitats that require little-to-no assembly. You can buy “cat shelves” that can be staggered along a wall so that the cat may perch high above the ground. It is also important to provide scratching posts or emery boards to allow them to scratch, lest your furniture suffer the consequences!

It is also important to devote time to playing with your cat, just like dogs. Do not simply give the cat a treat, make them hunt for it, or toss it into a room and let them search for it. Cats thrive off of the hunt, and you can still provide that for them from the safety of indoors. They also make treat puzzles for cats that require the cat to move pieces to retrieve treats.

In closing, an indoor cat is a safe cat. And with the right enrichment and environment, he/she can be a happy and healthy cat too!

The Cost of Unconditional Love

Row of Puppies and Kittens

Pets are a wonderful thing; they give us unconditional love and expect virtually nothing in return. We turn to them in times of stress and sorrow, and with a tug of a rope toy or a goofy lick of our faces, our troubles seem to disappear. Furthermore, when these pets become specialized service animals, they can touch peoples’ lives in unimaginable ways – from improving the lives of seniors in assisted living, to sensing when their owner is going to have a seizure, to helping a young child with autism overcome his social anxieties and calm them during times of turmoil. There’s nothing like the jubilation your dog expresses when you come home from a long day of work, or the feeling of that warm cuddly cat on your lap in front of the fireplace.

But there is a cold and ugly truth to pet ownership – and that is the cost. Many people are unaware of the potential costs that can arise from pet ownership, which can lead to very difficult decisions when it comes to your pet’s care. In this entry, our hope is to illuminate pet owners and soon-to-be pet owners on the potential costs associated with pet ownership with specific focus on veterinary care. It is important that we give our pets top quality veterinary care, but we understand that sometimes the costs associated can be a source of stress. Luckily, there are routine things that pet owners can do to alleviate some of these costs, and we’ll be touching on that as well.

Adopting a new pet is always exciting – from naming them, to buying them their first collar, their first food bowl, crate, etc. But more importantly, new puppies and kittens need to be properly vaccinated. Many first-time pet owners are unaware of a young pet’s vaccination schedule; puppies and kittens need a series of boosters, and should be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age.

  • Puppies require a series of 3 Distemper boosters, periodic deworming’s, a Rabies vaccine, and heartworm preventative. The cost of neutering/spaying of your dog varies based on age of the dog, weight, sex, etc.
  • Kittens also require a series of 3 feline Distemper boosters, periodic deworming’s and a Rabies vaccine, as well as testing for Feline Leukemia/AIDS. The cost of neutering/spaying a cat or kitten should also been taken into consideration.

Making sure that your pet is up-to-date on their vaccinations and care is an excellent way to keep track of your pet’s health, and to make sure there are fewer surprises. Regular veterinary care is imperative in making sure that most minor health issues do not become major (read: costly) issues. Keeping up with annual exams and recommended bloodwork is crucial. Though basic bloodwork does cost money, it is an excellent indicator of any internal issues going on with your pet’s organs. Bloodwork can determine if your pet’s liver and kidneys are functioning properly, if there are any possible infections present, and can even indicate the presence of cancer. It is important that regular bloodwork be obtained in order for your veterinarian to have points of reference in your pet’s care.

Dental care can also be costly, especially if your pet has any teeth that need to be extracted. Luckily, regular daily brushing greatly decreases this risk, just as it does in humans. In addition to making sure your pet’s teeth are healthy, it will greatly improve their breath!

We encourage pet owners to seriously consider pet insurance. There are many different plans available, and it can be overwhelming, so research is key! Many insurance plans only cover illnesses and accidents, though there are a few that cover wellness care (annual visits, vaccinations, heartworm tests/preventatives). Many of these insurance companies can provide online quotes, and are reachable by phone for more in-depth questions. The right insurance could be the difference between getting your pet the care they need and having to make a difficult decision. Too many pets are tragically euthanized at a young age because the cost of emergency care is too great.

Care Credit is also a valuable resource to have – it acts as a medical credit card, and is widely accepted at most veterinary clinics. They have special financing terms that can help owners deal with the cost of pet emergencies (i.e. a broken leg, a cat swallowing a sewing needle, a dog swallowing rocks, etc.). Many emergency clinics require payment in full at the time of service, and can cost several thousand dollars. Having insurance or Care Credit can give owners the financial assistance they so dearly need.

Though pets can certainly impact our wallets, the positive impact they have on our lives is immeasurable. Where would we be without our furry friends? As always, we here at Steinway Court Vet strive to give your pets the best care possible, and to be a source of information on all things pet-care!

Be sure to double-check your pet’s records – are they overdue on vaccinations or an annual exam? Call us today so that we can give your pet the care they deserve!

Pet insurance, Should you or Shouldn’t you?


The majority of our clients who have pet insurance are happy that they have it.  Depending on the type of policy as well as which company/pet insurance you choose, pet insurance can be worthwhile.  Like any type of insurance it is in place to make sure that when an emergency or something unforeseen occurs it will help cover the costs.  When an unexpected illness, accidents or emergency occurs you may be faced with hard choices due to financial considerations.  Insurance helps eliminate some of those choices.

“While you can’t predict when accidents or illnesses will happen, a pet health insurance plan will help you deal with unexpected veterinary costs, and you’ll know you’re providing the best possible protection for your pet.”  Not only will you be protecting your pet but potentially protecting yourself from making heart wrenching decisions based on finances

But like health insurance for humans, pet insurance can be complicated.  Depending on the policy that you choose, some policies will not cover older pets or genetic conditions that certain breeds are known to have, such as hip dysplasia in retrievers.  It is very important to check as well as compare various products that different companies offer to find one that will meet your needs.

Some people may be more comfortable putting aside money every month for their pet in a “Pet savings account” to cover the unexpected.  By putting money aside to pay for future work you may be covered for the unexpected veterinary care.  However you must be diligent about putting the money aside.  But what happens if the “future” turns out to be in a couple of months from when you initially started your savings plan?  That would not be so good.  For example, your puppy is playing with a red rubber ball, accidentally chews it up and swallows it.   Not good.  Or… your cat somehow swallows a needle, Yikes.  Sounds unlikely, true, but it happens more than you would think.  All are unexpected accidents.

The Steinway Court Vet recommends a few different companies based on how pleased our clients are regarding ease of reimbursement and of course the amount of that reimbursement.

Nationwide Pet insurance

Embrace Pet Insurance

There are many others.  Please get free price quotes from these and any other company.  Compare apples to apples when you receive your free quotes.

Thanksgiving Do’s and Don’ts

Thanksgiiving dogThanksgiving is fast approaching.  A fun holiday for us and our family has the potential to be problematic for our pets.  Believe it or not the trouble can start while we are cooking, with pets trying to get scraps of food.

A ham or turkey may come wrapped in string that might seem delicious to your pet.  However, if they eat the string that the meat or poultry comes wrapped in, we will have Trouble with a capital T.  Most dogs just cannot resist the temptation.  Make sure the string is disposed of in a sealed container out of the dogs reach.  Eating string and other indigestible products can lead to an obstruction.

As the day moves on friends and family will be coming over.  There may be a lot of commotion, noise and people that are unfamiliar to your pet.  Please provide a safe place for your pet to hide and be left alone.  They need to have a quiet place to escape (just like we do), when it gets to be too much with food, water and a comfy bed.

Now that it is time to sit down and eat you may have the urge to feed your dog a special treat for Thanksgiving, they are part of the family right?  Yes, and No. Strange foods and diet changes are hazardous to your pets’ digestive system. These changes can potentially lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and a very sick pet.  Give only a small amount of table food on top or mixed in with your pets regular dinner.  Many foods are poisonous to pets, including but not limited to onions, garlic, chocolate, raisins and grapes. For a complete list of foods and household items that are dangerous or poisonous to pets please look at the. AVMA’s brochure and video.

Feeding your dog foods that are high in fat can lead the pancreas to overwork and become inflamed. This is serious and can be extremely painful.  Signs of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Hospitalization and intensive medical treatment are required.  Left untreated a severe case of pancreatitis can even result in death which we DO NOT want.

When the house is getting quiet and everyone is heading home please make sure your garbage can is on lock down.  If your dog or cat are able to get in and grab cooked bones we may have a big problem. Cooked bones that are chewed and swallowed can splinter, break and lodge in an animal’s throat or intestines with life-threatening consequences.  To ensure everyone remains healthy, make sure all leftovers are thrown away and out of your pets’ reach!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have you included your pets in your disaster plan?

Puppy HoboRemember, pets are a member of your family.  Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make a plan and be prepared.  Since we don’t know if today will be the day prior to a disaster, let’s be prepared and get ready!

Does your pet have a collar or identification on?
A microchip? This will help you and your pet find each other if the collar comes off.  Make sure that the information is current with the microchip company and your veterinarian.

Do you have a pet carrier and leash that you can use to transport your pet if needed to keep both your pet as well as others safe from your pet.  It is possible that your pet will be very stressed with all the commotion during an evacuation.  Keeping your pet contained will help eliminate the anxiety they might have.

If you are sheltering in a place ensure you have plenty of food/water for your pet as well as yourself.  Pets may not be allowed in local human shelters so it is best to check with the humane society ahead of time which shelter in your area will be able to take you and your pet(s) If you are required to evacuate.  Finding this information out prior to an “event” will be less stressful.  Another option is to look for pet friendly hotels outside the evacuation area. Lastly, call your friends/family and see if you will be welcome in their home with your pet(s).

Now that you have a place to go, it is time to  get started on gathering the information that you will need to take with you. Besides the food, water, medication’s (2 weeks’ worth), trash and cleaning supplies (in case of an accident), it is advisable to take your pets vaccine info., rabies certificate and anything else that would be pertinent to your pets health.

What To Feed Your New Kitten

French bulldog and kitten posing together on white backgroundAre you having trouble deciding on how and what to feed your kitten?  Firstly keep in mind that kittens use a large amount of energy.  Did you know that they require almost 30 times the amount of protein vs an adult cat?  Providing food that is formulated specifically for kittens, cats up to one year of age is important. In addition it is imperative that you have plenty of fresh water around.  Nutritional formulas for adult cats should not be fed to growing kittens.

When you read the labels/choose the food to give your growing kitten here are a few things to keep in mind:

The recommended protein range for healthy kitten growth is 35 – 50% on a dry matter (DM) basis with at least 9% dry matter from an animal source.   Essential fatty acids is a concentrated source of energy and it carries fat-soluble vitamins. However too much energy intake is risky and can lead to obesity and developmental orthopedic disease. For this reason, the fat content for kittens should be rationed between 18 – 35% on a dry matter basis.  The calcium content should contain 0.8 – 1.6% calcium on a dry matter basis.

Are you thinking about giving your pet a raw diet?  Please don’t.  It is not recommended.  Feeding your cat under-cooked or raw food carries high risk for salmonella for both you and your kitten.

Now that you know what to feed your kitten, here is a way to feed your cat that enables the kitten to have to work at getting their food, giving them more exercise and keeping them lean as they age.  In the wild cats previously had to hunt for their food.  By utilizing a  a food puzzle or the like when feeding your kitten it will make eating fun and a challenge..  This will help as some cats do become couch potatoes and are at risk of becoming overweight or even obese.  Having them work for their food will help them maintain a healthy weight.  Another option is to try hiding small quantities of food in different locations and letting your kitten hunt for the food. Again, your kitten will get exercise and will be entertained at the same time.

Please do not feed supermarket food to your cat, rather purchase a good quality food that will keep them healthy and happy.