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!

Traveling with your pet

Travel Information

steinwaycourtvet

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go…….Traveling with your pet seems like a great idea but there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.  Are you traveling by car or plane?  If by car does your pet get car sick?    Are you concerned that it might be too long a trip or perhaps the temperature might be too hot.  You should be concerned.  Good call.  This is the time to leave your pet home in a boarding facility, either at our office, Steinway Court Vet or someplace else that you feel comfortable with, knowing  your  pet will be safe.

Are you thinking that perhaps you can just sedate your pet?   Sedating your pet to travel is not ideal.  It may be appropriate some of the times, however only you and your veterinarian, Dr. Glasser…

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Kidney Disease

Have you noticed your cat drinking more than usual?

Chronic kidney disease in cats is the most common disease process of middle age and elderly cats.  Did you know that kidney disease can be genetic?  This disease runs in certain lines or families of cats and as such has a strong genetic predisposition.   Although there is no cure per se , if diagnosed early, we can help slow the progression of the disease .  Cats compensate for this disease very well. They will typically not show significant signs of illness in the early stages.   Wondering how you can tell if your kitty has the beginning of kidney disease?   You are the one that can help make a difference.   Some of the signs to look for are:

  • Increase in water consumption
  • Increase in urination
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Lethargy
  • vomiting

Early detection is the best defense.  As your pets owner it is critical role determining if your pets behavior has changed.  The daily interaction that you have allows you to notice the subtle sign before they turn into a larger problem.  If you notice any of the above it is a good idea to have your pet screened  by the veterinarian.   We recommended: a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemical profile, and a urinalysis.

Unfortunately, once we see a rise in waste products in the blood there is an indication that the filtering mechanism of the kidney has been damaged.   In the urinalysis we test for pH, specific gravity, the presence of blood, protein, glucose, bilirubin, and ketones, and microscopically look for cells, bacteria, crystals, and casts.  These give us an understanding what is happening within the body.

There are multiple treatment options that we can use to delay the further damage to the kidneys.  The mainstay for therapy has been renal (kidney) diets. These diets are modified protein diets. If you pet has excessive protein consumption that can increase  nitrogenous waste in the body, which in turn, increases the burden on the kidney to remove it.

The best plan of action would be to be alert in changes that your pet may be exhibiting.  This will allow us to help you give you more quality time with your loved one.