Monday, December 12, 2016

Meet our Holiday Kitties: Snickers and Skittles!


Snickers (orange and white)-age 16.5, 10lbs &
Skittles (white)- age 14.5, 13 lbs.
Skittles has one green and one blue eye.
Both are Russian Siberians
They have been patients with Exclusively Cats since they were kittens.

 Mommy adopted me (Snickers) first from a breeder and then I told her I was lonely so she got Skittles from a different breeder. She got us from a breeder because at the time the person she was living with was allergic, and we are considered hypo-allergenic because we have very low levels of the dander protein that many are allergic to, called FeL d 1.

We love to go outside in our tent and are good buddies. We like to play fight and even though I am smaller, I still beat up Skittles and mom has to break up our fights.

Me in my window
I'm the life of the party!
Hi! I am mommy’s little person.  I sleep on her head every night   We have a great bond as I have been with her for a long time.  She says I am emotionally in tune with her and people: if someone is sick, I take care of them and I always know when mommy needs cheering up.    I even greet everyone as they come in.  As you can see I really love the Christmas tree.  When the tree isn’t up I like to lounge in the window and get my sun on or sleep on the top of my cat post.  When I occasionally feel like playing, I love the little mice that shake and the laser beam.  I am a very social cat so I am always at the dinner table…usually I sit on the floor and hope food comes my way, but when one of the seats is open...I take it!  I also like to drink my water out of a Dixie cup on the bathroom sink. It is always filled up as I am being monitored for kidney disease.  I love to eat, and wet food is my favorite.  I also am always looking for cat treats but Cool Whip and turkey are my favorites!    The team at Exclusively Cats is great but I turn into a very bad boy at the vet.  I think I have scratched everyone there. :(  Mommy feels bad about it and now I have to be put under sedation for some procedures.
and always have to be in on the action.
I love the holidays!



My little brother (see what I did there? He is small in the photo!)
showing off his three legs

Skittles' beautiful eyes
This is Skittles, he is my little brother.  We are very different as he is always the nonsocial one and runs and hides when people come to visit.  However, that mellow attitude makes him a good boy at the vet, unlike me.  He loves the dry food more than wet which I think is crazy.  He also loves the occasional small piece of cheesy puffs but doesn’t beg so that means more food for me!  Skittles is on special dry food because about 10 years ago he got a urinary blockage but we caught it in time and now he is good.  While I like to snuggle, he loves to be roughed up.  It is not unusual for him to yell and run around the house for no reason. He also likes the laser and our new cat dancer toy.

In May of 2015 mom noticed a very small lump on his back leg. After visiting Dr. Bailey for a check-up, we found out the lump was a fibrosarcoma that maybe he got from being vaccinatedMommy decided to have surgery performed, since amputation was the best option to try to rid him of the cancer.  It’s almost 2 years and he is still cancer free.   It’s funny but his personality has really changed since the surgery.  We call him “thumper” because you can always here him coming. :) He is so much more outgoing and is out and around all the time now.  He has a stool to help him get on the big bed that is one of his favorite places.  He is also demanding and yells at mom and dad when he wants them to sit on the couch so he can come up and lay on them on the blanket.  He has even become a snuggler in bed. I think he has become daddy’s boy.  He isn’t any different to any of us as a tripod. No one wants to hear the word cancer, but if it is an option to amputate do it. Cats are so resilient and we couldn’t imagine not having these moments with him! 
Skittles the snuggler

Happy Holidays from S&S!!!!
#SSselfie  XD

Friday, December 2, 2016

Esophagostomy tubes (E-tubes) and cats

 There are a number of reasons that a veterinarian might recommend the placement of an esophagostomy tube or e-tube if your cat is ill. The most common reason to place a tube is due to poor appetite - whether from pancreatitis or cancer or other illness. Other reasons could be to give fluids and medication to a cat in renal (kidney) failure or in the case of an oral or facial injury that makes it difficult for the cat to eat. Many people are concerned about the idea of placing a tube in their cat's neck because they fear that it will bother the cat, or it may look strange, or it may be difficult to maintain, but in reality, most people find that their cats are not bothered, the tube is surprisingly easy to maintain, and it is not as strange to look at as they thought. We thought that we would share a couple of recent experiences with you, and we invite you to share your own experiences, if you have had a cat with a tube placed.

An esophagostomy tube is a tube that is placed in the side of a cat's neck and sutured into place. The opening to the tube is located behind one ear, and the other end is located near the spot where the esophagus meets the stomach. There is a cap on the end of the tube behind the cat's ear, and the cat wears a small cloth collar to help protect the tube site and prevent too much motion of the tube.

Ms. Poof - 

Ms. Poof with her tube
We would like to share our experience with the feeding tube that we decided to use for our cat. 
At age 15 she has develop kidney disease. After several weeks of trying different ways to maintain her weight and make sure she got enough fluids, Drs. Bailey and Demos spent a great deal of time helping us though several treatment plans 
They offered the potential use of the feeding tube.  It sounds much worse than it is!  We decided to try it
The procedure was quick. Our cat is fairly fussy, but she has had no reaction. The little cloth collar doesn't bother her at all- and she would never tolerate a regular collar.
This has made caring for her so much easier. We can get her the necessary fluids and can also administer any necessary medications-we all know how stressful it is the get a cat to take a pill! She plays and eats and sleeps normally with the tube. 
I would recommend giving serious consideration to using the tube if the doctors make the suggestion. The entire staff at Exclusively Cats are phenomenal.
They care for our cats as if they were their own. 
I'd be happy to talk to anyone about our experience. 

Peabody, our renal failure kitty -

Thanks for asking me to write about our experience with Peabody and using an e-tube while he was
Peabody snoozing with his buddy Lewis
in renal failure. Peabody was our second renal failure kitty. His sister, Kimba Girl, had it as well. Kimba lived to be 18, and she was on sub Q fluids for 18 months. She just kept going and going! Still, it was quite a commitment to give her the injections every day, more injections as time went on. She accepted them quite well.
Peabody and Lewis sharing a heated bed
We were given the option for an e-tube with Kimba, but we truly thought that once she was on fluids, it would only be a matter of months. We didn’t want to put her through the surgical procedure at 16. Since we had to give her injections for well over a year, we knew that, for Peabody, we would do the tube right off the bat, because he could be on fluids for quite a while.
Peabody enjoying the outdoors with his tube
I was, at first, surprised by how long the tube stuck out from his neck. I was concerned about his collar bothering the tube. He had to wear a little cloth sleeve to protect the tube incision site as well. For the most part, it didn’t seem to bother him and, while we did have a few challenges with the tube, I believe it was a good choice for Peabody overall.
Our cats do go outside in the yard a bit. This was the hardest adjustment, because Peabody could not eat grass once the tube was in. The grass-induced vomiting put him at risk of coughing up the tube. Still, he wanted to go out every day and enjoy the sun, roll in the dusty driveway, rub his face in the catnip, and eat grass. As a result, I spent plenty of time just following him around the yard monitoring him to ensure he didn’t eat any grass. Sometimes I stood in the sun, for 10, 20, 30, minutes, while he just nosed around, rolled, etc. I must admit it drove me nuts sometimes, but I’d love to do it one more time with him.
As luck would have it, he did vomit the tube up in our living room just a couple weeks after having it put in. It is something that happens. We just did not give him fluids that day, & got him back to the vet the next day, and the tube was replaced.
The incision site needs to be cleaned daily. This did not prove to problematic; I just did it before or after giving the fluids, while the cat was already next to me. I kept the supplies in a little bowl, and I did it on the sofa. Peabody did not like to be carried to the bathroom counter for such things.
We did run into an unusual problem about 9 months in. We noticed some sort of black stuff –
possibly a mold – growing inside the tube. Very weird. Not sure how it ever got in there. We tried pushing a tiny syringe of coca cola thru it, but that did not work. I even bought some tiny pipe cleaners, dipped it in cola, and tried to scrub the tube interior, with no improvement. However, by doing that, I think I tugged a bit on the stitches attaching the tube to the neck, so we once again had to take him in and have that addressed. Since the tube had this mold, it had to be replaced – again – and it was stitched up again. We had no further problems with the tube. The good vets at E-Cats indicated they had never seen that before, so it’s unlikely you would run into that particular concern.
As far as giving the fluids, there are several advantages of using the tube. First, it is so much easier
Peabody's tube did not interfere with his favorite sport - extreme napping
than using bagged fluids, heating it up, filling syringes, and giving your cat several 2 oz injections. I just put warm tap water in a mug, filled a 2 oz syringe from the mug, and took the syringe and mug to the sofa. I would no sooner sit down and Peabody would hop up next to me, purring. He loved getting his water. He curled up and just purred loudly while I slowly pushed the water. I assume it felt warming, and filled his belly. He was always happy to have it. It was a very loving experience.
Another advantage of giving the fluids through a tube, is that it was easier for my husband to do participate as well. His eyesight is not the best, so filling the syringes quickly and making sure he was injecting the cat properly was difficult for him. That meant most of the work fell to me, and it was hard for him if I was out of town. With the tube, he could easily give Peabody the fluids and have some nice “sofa-time” with sweet Pea.
As Peabody occasionally got constipated, we needed to give him some Miralax every day. With
Kimba, we added it to her food, and could never be sure if she ate it, or one of the other cats. With Peabody, we just stirred the Miralax into the cup of warm water, and it went in with his fluids. Easy peasy.
The little cotton collars do need to be laundered. Peabody’s tube stuck out quite a ways, and I was always concerned about it hurting if he got in a tussle with another cat, or while scratching. I sewed a little piece of elastic to the collar so that I could tuck the tube under that, and keep it “hugging” closer to his neck.
A loving memorial to a singular cat
We now have our 3rd renal failure kitty, Lewis. Lewis was recently put on fluids just for a few days, and he improved. Eventually we know we will have to make the choice again – do we give him daily injections or the tube? A major factor will be that Lewis likes to go outside much more than Peabody, and his favorite thing is eating grass. We will have to decide if we want the convenience and ease of the tube for ourselves, or to let him continue to enjoy the yard and eat grass. We’ll have to wait and see.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Meet Mr. October: Ahote


Ahote has a very special story - we didn't just pick an orange cat because it is October and the leaves are changing colors. Ahote was brought to us in September as a stray cat that one of our clients had noticed hanging around for a number of weeks. She brought him in for a checkup and he had a microchip! We scanned the microchip and it was registered to a Michigan phone number but a Chicago address. We tried several times to contact the owner at the phone number, but we were unable to contact the owner, so suspect that the contact information is not current. It is VERY important to keep your microchip information current in case of situations like this one! We did learn that the cat's name was Ahote, which means "restless one" in the Hopi language.

Cloudy fluid from Ahote's abdomen
In the meantime, he did not seem to be feeling well. At first, it seemed like he might be coming down with an upper respiratory infection, but he didn't want to eat and seemed very uncomfortable, so we decided to take an x-ray. We were very surprised to see his x-ray when it was developed - there was a BB in him, and a large amount of fluid and debris (effusion) in his abdomen. We tapped his abdomen and found that he had evidence of inflammation in the abdomen (peritonitis) , but no obvious bacterial infection. However, the presence of the BB in him and the sheer number of white blood cells made us concerned that he may have had a perforation in his digestive tract. Other concerns were a condition called steatitis, which is an inflammation of the abdominal fat, and pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. 
Abdominal fluid with WBC, RBC, plasma and fat -  layers from bottom to top

Ahote was upgraded to a critical case at 8pm that night (a Thursday) and we ran bloodwork and prepped him for surgery. His blood clotting times were prolonged, so we knew that he might require a

blood transfusion during surgery, and we were right to be prepared! Dr. Demos and Dr. Bailey quickly performed an exploration of the abdomen, found no leaks in the intestinal tract, but did find some firm lumps of necrotic (decomposing) fat. This confirmed that Ahote had a case of steatitis. We were able to flush the remaining debris from his abdominal cavity and complete the surgery, which was good, because the samples that we had collected from his abdomen earlier grew bacteria, as did the lumpy fatty material we collected from his abdomen. We started him on multiple antibiotics because both the white blood cell count in his blood stream and the cell count from his abdominal fluid were high. A normal white blood cell count in a cat his age should not be higher than 15,000 cells per deciliter of blood. His WBC count was 43,400 cells per deciliter! The white cell count from his abdominal fluid was 156,400 cells per deciliter. Ahote was losing a lot of blood and protein during this procedure, and his blood pressure was so low that it would not register on the blood pressure machine.
Ahote getting prepped for surgery

Once we knew he was going to need a transfusion, Mr. A was prepped for a donation. We needed fresh whole blood ASAP! In addition, while one of our technicians was in surgery with him and the surgeons, another technician was gathering blood from Mr. A, and a third was preparing to get blood on a second cat, as several of our staff members were contacted to bring donors from home on their days off! When the other cats arrived, we continued to use our teamwork to efficiently prepare donors and collect blood and transport it to surgery for administration.

He received two blood transfusion during surgery and several more post-surgery - a total of four whole-blood transfusions and 2 fresh frozen plasma transfusions, because his protein levels were still low after surgery. By 10pm, he was out of surgery, but the doctors were in disagreement as to whether he was going to pull through. He was on blood pressure support medications for 4 days post-surgery, and IV fluids for 6 days after surgery, but he started eating again, and we had hope that he would persevere.

Ahote rubs your legs for his ENTIRE length - even his toes!
As of the last week of September, his white count is almost normal, and he is active and affectionate, though his name, "restless one" definitely fits - he winds around our legs and head-butts and climbs all over us, but is definitely not a lap-sitting cat. He has a peculiar habit of rubbing against a person's leg and then sticking one leg out straight behind him, pointing his toes, and stretching.
It is an adorable thing to see!

He is still taking multiple antibiotics for his peritonitis, as well as Vitamin E and liver supplements for their free-radical scavenging and anti-oxidant properties, to treat the steatitits. We hope that when he is fully recovered, we will be able to find him a good home. We may never know why he developed steatitis, but generally the most common cause is a poor diet, deficient in Vitamin E.

Ahote's care was in-part funded by Foxy's Fund - made possible by generous donations from people like you! Without your help, care for cases like Ahote would not always be feasible for us to manage. Thus far, Ahote has received over $5000 worth of care and treatment. If his story moves you, we hope you would consider donating to his cause through Foxy's Fund and theVeterinary Care Foundation.
Ahote hopes that he can look forward to a bright and happy future!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Alphabet Soup at the Veterinary Hospital: What do all those letters mean?

Some people have asked about all the letters after the names of some of our doctors, so we thought we would clear up some of the confusion about what they mean.

DVM/VMD - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/Veterinary Medical Doctor - Veterinarians who have completed 4 years of veterinary coursework at an AVMA accredited university and have passed a licensing examination called the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE) are awarded this title. Only one college in the US awards a VMD - the University of Pennsylvania - because the Veterinary Medical School there is one of the oldest in the US and arose out of the medical school at that institution. This is also why dentists that graduate from that school are designated as DMD, not the more common DDS.
Dr. Bailey is a Diplomate of the AMareican Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Feline Specialty

DABVP (Feline) - Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (Feline Specialty) - Veterinarians who have made a choice to undergo a rigorous process of additional studies, residency,  and a challenging examination are then awarded the designation of board certified specialist recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This process takes a minimum of three years to complete, and there are 41 distinct specialties recognized through the American Board of Veterinary Specialists.

Dr. Demos has a BVMS from Murdoch University in Australia

BVMS HonsBSc - Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Honors level courses. The BVMS designation (and other variations) is considered to be equivalent to DVM/VMD degrees, and is awarded in the UK and Australia. It is a degree that is 100% transferable to the US in terms of licensure if the college that awards the BVMS is AVMA accredited.The Honors designation refers to the fact that the student was held to higher standards than the average student, often requiring the production and presentation of a high-quality research thesis, which may or may not be published in a scholarly journal.

For our technical staff, there are some other designations you may see:

LVT, CVT, RVT - Licensed Veterinary Technician, Certified Veterinary Technician, Registered Veterinary Technician, respectively. These designations indicate that a professional has received a 2-4 year degree from an AVMA accredited program and passed both state and national licensing examinations. Those who attend a 2 year program are referred to as veterinary technicians, and those who attend a 4 year program are referred to as veterinary technologists.

VTS - Veterinary Technician Specialty - similar in nature to the DABVP specialties available for veterinarians. Technicians must complete additional studies, provide references, write scholarly articles or case studies, and pass a rigorous examination to achieve this designation. There are 13 specialties that technicians can pursue. There is not currently a feline specialty.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Meet our September Cat of the Month: Marley!


 Age: 16 months
Breed: Snowshoe 
Gender: Neutered Male 
Demeanor at the vet: Sweet, maybe a little timid
Last checkup - August 27th: Healthy young adult cat!

Marley is a very energetic, very friendly & snuggly cat! He loves playing & wrestling with his sister Maggy, a small Mountain Tree Feist dog. 

He also loves to play fetch with his toys, and plays with the water in his water fountain. 

Here is a photo of Marley as a 6 month old kitten. So cute!

Notice how his coat has darkened over time. It is very common for cats with colorpoint coats like Siamese, Ragdolls, Himalayans and Snowshoes to experience coat color changes due to changes in their body temperature and the temperature of the environment. The gene that helps create colorpoint coats is a gene that controls temperature-dependent albinism. The cooler the body temperature on average, the darker the coat color, because the albino gene is only turned on by warm temperatures. When the temperature reaches a certain level, the albino gene turns on, which turns OFF the color genes. Ears, face, tail and limbs are cooler than the trunk of the body, so that is where the color genes are allowed to be expressed.

Cats of these breeds that run fevers while they are ill may develop a ticked or spotty mask because the facial hairs that grow in during the fever will be whitish in color in contrast to the darker hairs that grew while the cat was not running a fever. Additionally, these breeds may develop very dark patches over the kidneys as they age, as the kidneys have many blood vessels that circulate while they are healthy. As the cat ages and blood flow in the kidneys may not be as strong, the areas over the kidneys can become darker-furred. Colorpoint breeds that live in northern climes where the winters are colder will develop darker coats than cats of the same breed that live in the south. These cats may even become darker and lighter with the seasons, if they have access to the outdoors.

If you are interested in genetics, read on for further information on the case of the color changing cats:

Messybeast: Colorpoint and Masked Cats

Siamese Cats are Walking Heat Maps

Siamese Cat Genetics

Wikipedia Article on Point Coloration in Various Species

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Meet our August Cat of the Month, Fergus!


Fergus is a little 2 year old orange tabby that we first got to meet a few weeks ago. He is a big city cat from New York City, and has what has been diagnosed as a mild case of cerebellar hypoplasia (CH). This is a condition that affects the development of the brain in young cats when their mother is exposed to distemper - either the disease or the vaccine - during pregnancy. Cats with cerebellar hypoplasia are wobbly and display "intention tremors" or "stutter steps", but are otherwise generally happy, sociable cats that make excellent companions.

His owners have a lovely and heartwarming story about his adoption:
"My girlfriend, and I decided after Jackson (a former ECats patient) died, we wanted a pair of cats and for them to be with special needs or difficult to home for some reason and that we had to wait until we returned to Michigan so we wouldn't have to travel with them from New York.

"Meanwhile, my girlfriend learned about CH (aka "wobbly") cats and became obsessed with them. I was interested but when I found out that when the CH is severe enough, they can need help using litter boxes, can't get on or off furniture on their own, etc. - that was my limit. My girlfriend took that as "we're getting a CH kitty!" and ran with it. 

"Meanwhile, it was taking us longer to move to MI than expected and my girlfriend found a tripod (three-legged cat) named "Bunny" who needed a home. I was holding firm about no new cats till
Furgus in August
Michigan, but Bunny was going to be at a cat adoption event so I agreed to go "just to look." We met her, and she was very cute. We asked, just out of curiosity, if we could see how she would interact with another cat.  The rescuer said she had just gotten a new little guy who was a stray picked up in Queens that the organization had rescued (and checked out, neutered, etc) who seemed to be friendly around other cats so she'd bring him into the room to see how it would go. 

"The rescuer brought in Fergus and said offhandedly when she went to set him down, "now he's a little wobbly..." We both lit up, my girlfriend especially, and she asked "Does he have CH?"  The rescuer said "I'm kind of the CH lady around here and I haven't met him till this morning, but let's have a look..." so she put him down and he was timid and all of that given the situation, but was able to walk without much trouble, if a little uncoordinated.  Plus he had splayed out front paws so she said she suspected he had a mild case.  Meanwhile he was as cute and sweet as could be, as was Bunny, so after a little while together, all of my edicts went out the window and we were like, "We'll take 'em both!"  And I have to say, Bunny is genuinely wonderful and Fergus is off the charts with how sweet and loving he is and how fun he is just to be around.  He's got the cutest
Fergus telling his reflection "You look MAH-velous!"
demeanor, loves people and has countless adorable quirks. The only thing we don't like is that it's hard to capture his magic on camera.  He comes across as cute and all but it's a rare picture that captures his essence which often is in his eyes - they get round with big pupils and look like a Margaret Keane painting.  But more often than not, he looks like any cute cat when the camera comes out.  And, like Jackson, he's sick of getting his picture taken at this point."
Fergus prior to surgery

Fergus was brought to Exclusively Cats for the first time because he was feeling a little under the weather. He hadn't gained much weight since his owners had adopted him, and now he was vomiting. We started treating him with conservative therapies to help decrease his vomiting and increase his appetite, but it soon became apparent that something more was wrong than a simple upset stomach.

There was no obvious foreign body ingestion on his x-rays at emergency, but that is what the ER
suspected. Fergus returned to us for surgery, and we were able to confirm the location of the obstruction with a special x-ray contrast study.We passed some air into the digestive tract to help outline the intestinal tract. This is called a "negative contrast" study. The intestinal tract is a tube, so air should go in one end and out the other, but in Fergus's case, it stopped. We passed air into the opposite end of the intestinal tract, and again it did not pass all the way through. What we were left with was a small area of density that was obstructing the intestine and preventing things from passing either direction. At this point, it was apparent that Fergus needed surgery to remove the obstruction.

Air would not completely fill the intestinal tract.
We were able to localize the obstruction, which was very close to the colon. If the object had been a little smaller, we might have been able to encourage it to enter the large intestine and then pass normally, however, it was just a little too large to pass through the junction between the small intestine and large intestine, so Dr. Demos surgically removed it. She also checked the rest of the intestinal tract for any additional foreign material. The object was a small knot of felt material.

The culprit!
When we showed the object to the owners, it was immediately recognized as part of a toy. Fergus was not known for eating his toys, but when his owners checked the toy in question, they discovered that he had indeed recently chewed the end off!
Fergus visiting with family right after surgery.

Well-chewed felt toy
Young cats can often get themselves into trouble by chewing on inappropriate objects, as some of our staff members know all too well! When that happens, sometimes the object might pass, and other times, the object must be surgically removed. We have seen hair ties, hair scrunchies, rubber bands, fishing lines (with and without hooks), needles and threads, many kinds of small children's toys (or pieces of small children's toys), Easter grass, Halloween spiderweb decorations, carpet, yarn, shoelaces, ear plugs, foam puzzle pieces, regular puzzle pieces and coins. If you think that your cat may have eaten something inappropriate, it is a good idea to check with your vet to see if it is something to be concerned about. Your vet may just have you monitor your cat, but some items may be toxic. Sometimes, you may not know if your cat has eaten an inappropriate item, such as in Fergus's case - that fleece did not really appear to have been eaten unless you knew to look for it! He chewed it off quite neatly. If you have a young, playful cat that starts acting lethargic, does not want to eat or starts acutely vomiting (especially right after eating) or if your cat vomits bright green fluid (bile), you should also call your veterinarian right away, like Fergus's owners did!

Happily, Fergus did very well after surgery, came to spend a few days with us while his owners were out of town post-surgery, and he is now quite back to his old self!

We celebrate Fergus as our August cat because he is a kitty who has medical challenges but still found a loving home, and despite his challenges is a feisty, adorable and pretty normal little guy! We also celebrate him (along with all those other naughty toy-eating kitties of all ages and breeds) as a success story who we are honored to have been able to help!

Fergus's glamor shot!