2010 has been another great year for The Cat Clinic and our staff – our 6th year of operation. Thank-you to all those beautiful cats who make our profession so enjoyable.
Dr. Amy passed her Fellowship exams in July and is now a Registered Specialist in Feline Medicine, one of only eleven in Australia. We are all very proud of her as it brings to an end five years of hard study and dedication. She is now even busier seeing sick cats and referral cases from Vets around Melbourne. She also received an award from the Small Animal Veterinary Association for the best clinical case series published, and continues her role as Secretary of the Feline Chapter of the Australian College. We hope 2011 is slightly less stressful for her.
Dr Richard has also had a busy year (especially whilst Amy was away studying, his golf suffered terribly as a result). He has presented several lecture series on Feline Medicine around Australia, Hong Kong and Europe, as well as his research into feline osteoarthritis. He presented a paper at the European Veterinary conference, where the cat clinic’s experience has helped publish guidelines for the treatment of feline osteoarthritis. But, the highlight would be his three week trip to China with Vets Beyond Borders http://www.vetsbeyondborders.org/.
He spent three weeks volunteering with seven other Vets and Nurses from Melbourne on an educational program for the welfare management of cats. This was a truly wonderful experience and he hopes to return soon. He met many dedicated cat carers and Vets, and also got to hug a Panda! He has continued as the President of the Melbourne Veterinary Association and has also accepted a position on the board of the Victorian division of the Australian Veterinary Association.
Sadly, Richard & Amy said goodbye to two of their beloved cats Sabi & Gordon. Gordon had a slowly progressive brain tumor. He was a lovely boy who helped save many other cats lives as a blood donor through his life with Richard. Sabi, the most beautiful little oriental, bravely battled a failing heart, but even with two cat vets as servants, her disease finally took its toll on her little body. Both are missed terribly and the household is not the same with just two cats. Thank you for all the kind wishes.
Dr Sally has almost been with our practice for 12 months now. She has fitted in wonderfully and settled in to Melbourne life well. She has had to become used to the rigors of a long distance relationship, as her partner Toby is completing a residency in Equine Surgery in Sydney. Sally is working towards sitting her memberships in Feline Medicine and has taken an active role in Veterinary student mentoring.
Our wonderful nursing team has continued to grow, with Jackie starting her Veterinary nursing Certificate Congratulations to Louise, who had a beautiful baby girl in July, named Olive.
Thank you for your support through the year – we wish you and your beloved cats a safe and happy holidays. The clinic will be closed 25th – 28th December & again 1st – 3rd of January.
For Veterinary assistance, please contact one of the 24 hour Hospitals listed on our website (but we truly hope none of you require this service).
My Diabetic “Mac”
By Faye Koopmans (Vet Nurse at the Cat Clinic)
My beautiful 11yr old black domestic ‘Mac’, was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Like most clients (even though I deal with this medical condition at work) I was very concerned – after all he is my boy. This condition however is easily treated and with current innovative insulin, such as glargine your cat’s requirement for insulin can be rapidly reduced and therefore on the way to going into remission as I have recently discovered.
Causes of diabetes include the genetic predisposition of particular breeds such as Burmese, obesity, use of steroids to treat other medical conditions, and gender (it usually occurs in males rather than females). Age also plays a part and the incidence of diabetes increases from 9yrs of age. Mac has 3 of these factors working against him, his age, sex and unfortunately being overweight.
Recognising the signs is important. Symptoms include increased thirst and increased urination. These are the two important first signs coupled with increased appetite and weight loss. If these signs go unnoticed the next stage is lethargy, not eating, and you may notice your cat seems unwell. We call these “sick diabetics” as once they get to this stage ketones show up in the urine. Ketones are waste products of fatty acid breakdown in the body. This is a result of burning fat, rather than glucose, to fuel the body. If left untreated it can cause severe illness and can be fatal, therefore prompt action is required and it is considered an emergency.
Diagnosis is simple with an initial urine test which will indicate glucose in the urine which otherwise would not normally be present. Further blood testing will confirm the diagnosis. The presence of glucose in the urine is the failure of cells to absorb the glucose. Glucose is produced after eating and insulin is secreted which signals the cells to absorb glucose as a source of energy. This does not occur in diabetic cats, requiring twice daily insulin injections to supplement the body’s need for insulin.
Treatment is simple and careful monitoring and special dietary changes can greatly speed the reduction in insulin and the remission process. Twice daily injections of insulin are required given 12 hours apart. Home monitoring of blood glucose I found vital, enabling the reduction in insulin which in Mac’s case was from 3.5 units to 2 units in only 3 weeks and is now currently 1 unit. It looks like he will likely go into remission soon!
Dietary changes include special diabetic dry food, and high protein such as meat. In Mac’s case he already eats meat so weighing the meat and measuring out the recommended amount of dry is important. Obviously this helps in weight reduction. By measuring the food I can establish his calorie intake, so if he is not losing weight I can reduce the amount of food further.
Measuring blood glucose at home was no problem, I know you are thinking “its ok for her – she is a vet nurse”, but it can be achieved. It is not only about technique which is simple, but confidence which comes with practice. The initial anxiety you may experience will out weigh the benefits of measuring blood glucose at home. Here you can monitor it closely in their own environment which reduces their stress. Then changes can be made to reduce insulin required and speed up the process of remission. I found using treats a great tool to reward your cat. Mac receives a special treat when his BG is measured and receives some diabetic food (from his measured amount) when he gets his insulin. Felines love routine and like clock work he hassles me 5 mins before his insulin dose waiting in the kitchen. If you reward cats and give them plenty of praise this helps with compliance. Urine glucose monitoring is important once Mac has gone into remission. This is performed once a month for the rest of his life to allow early detection of diabetes should he come out of remission.
The most life–threatening complication is hypoglycemia or low blood glucose. This occurs if too much insulin is given. Main signs are weakness, lethargy, disorientation, and a drunken gait. Rapid recognition is needed to prevent collapse, coma or even death. If these signs are observed the cat should be encouraged to eat and glucose/honey should be applied directly onto the gums.
There are changes you need to adapt to which most notably is being home to inject your cat, therefore the more you can monitor at home the more likely and the quicker remission can be achieved and the sooner you can go to the pub after work! At home monitoring involves checking water intake, appetite and body weight – weight loss is important for the remission process, as well as monitoring blood glucose and urine glucose levels.
Through this whole process Mac is a happy cat doing all his normal things like chasing my other cat, playing with his favourite catnip toy, lying around in the sun, scratching my furniture and hanging out with me on the couch while demanding his daily brush. In some ways his condition has bought us closer together due to extra care and attention, what cat says no to a special treat and an extra chin scratch?
MOVING HOUSE WITH 4 CATS
Georgia’s Story (Vet Nurse at the Cat Clinic)
Moving house is always a major pain, but my favourite part has always been the moment when my husband and I get to release the cats into the fully furnished house. Watching them sniff around and explore their new surroundings has always been fun, as we have moved many times with our Ragdolls, Rupert and Bellatrix. They are old hands at relocating, having originally come over from England. They take it all in their stride and we’ve never had a problem with them.
Since the last move, we have acquired Ari, a Lilac Burmese boy and Bertie a tiny Singapura boy. Bertie is a bit of a scaredy cat, so we anticipated he might not take to moving as well as the Ragdolls. I put a lovely snuggler bed in the bottom of a cupboard for him and he pretty much stayed curled up in there for the first three or four days, only venturing out a night like a little marsupial.
Ari, who is my sweetest most loving cat, turned into an absolute monster. This was totally unexpected and really quite devastating. From the moment we left our old apartment, he started growling and hissing. I thought he’d calm down in few hours. When we got to the new place, he wouldn’t come out of his cage. He grew angrier and angrier and when I tried to extract him from the cage to comfort him, he struck at me, snorting and hissing. The other cats and I were shocked and a little annoyed that he was being such a big baby, so I put a towel over his cage and left him in the bedroom. Later that night after we’d all gone to bed, he began to venture out of his cage. I grabbed him and put him under the doona with me, as this is where he always sleeps and I thought he’d feel safer. Unfortunately I did not get to sleep that night. Ari wouldn’t settle. He crawled around under the covers, constantly clawing his way over us, meowing and growling all night. I didn’t know what to do. (Though in the back of my mind, I knew what I would have advised a client to do in the same situation.) In between long bouts of snoring, my husband would wake up and claim he wasn’t getting any sleep and couldn’t I do something about the cat?
Eventually the sun came up and we both went work, leaving Ari in the bed. At work, Dr Richard asked me what advice I would give to a client who was moving house and told me I should have taken my own advice. He then prescribed Ari some anti-anxiety medication to be used only for the next day or two. I also purchased some Feliway, a wonderful product that contains a synthetic analogue of the feline facial pheromone. It comes as a spray or a diffuser that plugs into an electrical socket and wafts the scentless liquid around the house, providing a sense of security and well-being and preventing and reducing signs of stress. Armed with these items, I returned home full of hope to find a poo on the end of the bed and Ari still under the covers.
The poo pretty much sapped the last vestiges of sympathy out of me. I popped an anxiety tablet down his throat, and removed him from the bedroom. I set him up in the spare room, with a big fleecy cat bed, a litter tray, a bowl of food and water and plugged in a Feliway diffuser. I then closed the door and went about the business of laundering my bed linen. I left Ari in that room, checking on him every couple of hours for three days. I tested him out in the house a few times, but as soon as he showed any aggression to the other cats I shut him straight back in the room. The change in him happened pretty quickly. After two hours in the room, he stopped growling and hissing at me. He became loving and cuddly again, though he was still quite aggressive toward the other cats, and days later he was out and about with the rest us, totally back to normal. This method of keeping your cat segregated in one room when moving house absolutely works and I wish I had done it from day one.