Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cat Christmas Safety

Christmas is an exciting time for the family, but it always pays to take some extra precautions with our pets. There are many dangers around, below are some suggestions on how to ensure your cat stays safe during the Christmas period.

Christmas Tree/Decorations
The only fool proof way to keep your cat away from your Christmas tree is to put the tree in a room the cat can't access. Unfortunately, this is often not practical. So the next best solution is to make the tree as safe as possible. Real Christmas trees are more dangerous to cats than fake plastic ones. Pine needles can puncture internal organs if eaten, they are also toxic to cats. If you do have a real tree, make sure the drink stand has plenty of water to prevent the tree drying out & losing needles. It is important that your cat isn't able to get to this water & drink it as it could result in poisoning. Ensure the tree has a good solid base so it won't easily be knocked over by your cat. Try not to have the tree near furniture & or shelves which the cats could use to jump onto the tree.

Be very careful with tinsel, if you must have it on your tree, place it at the top of the tree where the cat is less likely to be able to get at it. Tinsel can be caught around the base or move down to the intestines & stomach & cause a blockage, which will result in emergency (and costly) surgery to remove it. A safer alternative are the strands of beads. Ornaments should be securely attached to the tree to prevent them being knocked off. Also place delicate ornaments up high where they're less likely to be knocked off & broken.

When there is nobody around, unplug Christmas lights, you may want to try applying a cat repellent such as bitter apple to the lights to deter your cat from chewing the wires, obviously if this was to happen it could cause a fatal electric shock.

Artificial snow is toxic to cats, so is best avoided.

Candles are especially popular over the Christmas holiday period, be careful to make sure your cat can't get close to lit candles.

Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias are all popular plants to have in the home at Christmas, especially in the northern hemisphere. These plants are toxic to cats so should be placed where your cat can't get to them. Please see our page on common household toxins for an extensive list on toxic & non toxic plants.

Many cat owners enjoy giving their cat the occasional treat of "human" food & generally this doesn't harm the cat. However, it is important to remember that some foods which are fine for humans to eat can be toxic to cats. The odd sliver of chicken or turkey (off the bone) is fine, however it really isn't a good idea to give them large quantities of such food as this can lead to gastrointestinal problems. Never give your cat cooked chicken or turkey bones, these bones can splinter & can become lodged in your cat's throat or puncture the intestines & stomach.

is toxic to cats, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic. Chocolate contains both caffeine & theobromine, which are both toxic. If you suspect your cat has eaten chocolate watch for signs of restlessness & vomiting, if in doubt, see your vet.

Cats will often scavenge for food in the garbage so be aware that if you've covered your turkey with foil & thrown it in the bin, your cat may drag it out & chew on it which could make the cat sick. Cooked turkey bones will also attract your cat. Be aware of this & if possible, take your food scraps etc., to your outside bin.

Xmas ribbons/wrap
Ribbons etc., pose the same problem as tinsel, if eaten, it may lead to intestinal blockages. It's important to ensure all ribbons/wrap etc., are safely disposed of.

Please note, your cat isn't a novelty item & it's dangerous to try & decorate your cat with ribbons etc.

Some cats love the attention of visitors, others find strangers in their house stressful. Christmas is often a busy time with visitors coming & going. Be mindful of your cat's feelings & give the cat the option of somewhere quiet to escape to should the need arise, this is particularly important if your friends & relatives have young children.


If you are going away on holiday, you have several options for your cat. You may choose to put your cat in a boarding cattery while you are gone. It is best to check out the premises prior to taking your cat there so you can ensure the cattery meets your standards. Any reputable boarding cattery will insist your cat is up to date on it's vaccinations, this is important for the well being of your cat & all other cats they have boarding there. Many vets also do boarding for cats but in my opinion this isn't ideal for more than a few days as their cages tend to be much smaller than those you'd expect to find in a boarding cattery.

There are a growing number of pet sitters available these days. They will come over once or twice a day to feed & play with your cat & to clean the litter tray. I find this most suitable when going away for a few days.

If you are going away for an extended period of time you may want to consider asking a friend or relative to house sit.

Whichever option you take, make sure you leave a phone number where you can be contacted & your vet's telephone number in case of an emergency.

When buying toys for your cat, make sure you thoroughly check them first. Similar precautions should be taken with your cat's toys as you'd take buying a toy for a young child. Make sure there is nothing glued on that the cat can pull off & swallow. As the toy will quite likely be chewed on, ensure that it's made from a non-toxic substance. There are many wand like toys on the market which most cats love, these should be put away safely when not in use because the cat could become tangled on the string. Any toy that is small enough for your cat to swallow is dangerous & should be avoided.

Kittens as gifts
Buying a kitten as a gift is fine as long as the person receiving the kitten has asked for a pet & knows that owning a cat is quite likely to be a 15-20 year responsibility. Never buy a pet as a surprise gift for somebody. Also, because Christmas is usually such a chaotic time, it is best to try & arrange to collect your kitten after Christmas to avoid undue stress on the animal. Please, if you are considering buying a pet as a gift, really think it through before you do so. Pet ownership is a big responsibility & shouldn't be entered into lightly. Any shelter worker will tell you that their most busy time of the year is just after Christmas people bring them unwanted pets. Don't add to the problem by buying a pet for somebody on a whim.

To view the full article by CatWorld visit Cat Christmas Safety.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Online Resources to Return Lost Pets

Have you noticed a new kitty in your neighborhood that you think might be lost? There are some new online tools to help find out if the kitty has a microchip and if that chip is registered. Most veterinary clinics - including Scottsdale Cat Clinic - will check for microchips for free.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) unveiled their new interactive website this past September: There is also another website called which was up in its Beta version in August.

To view the full article about this new service, visit The Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association

Even if your kitties are strictly indoor, we recommend having a microchip put in. It only takes a moment for your baby to slip outdoors and the chip will help see that she gets home to you. According to the organization Bring Pets Home 8-12 million pets wind up in shelters. Most shelters are equipped with chip readers, and do make every effort to get lost pets home.

Although the microchip is not a "Lo Jack for Kitties", chipped cats have a much higher chance of being returned to their owners. Here at Scottsdale Cat Clinic, we use the HomeAgain microchip which has a wonderful network of fellow pet owners to alert if someone gets lost.

Call or email us today for more information.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Home for the Holidays

Meet Fiona, our most recent "very over sized" rescue kitty. Brought to us by the Arizona Maine Coon Cat Rescue, Fiona was very obese and experiencing health complications due to her size alone. She couldn't groom herself which led to infection and she also had a history of urinary tract issues.

You probably never met or saw Fiona during her time here at the clinic. Her size and health complications required close monitoring and we didn't feel she was considered adoptable until she lost weight. She stayed in our boarding area while we worked on her special prescription diet and jazzercise routine. As the weeks went by, we started to slowly but surely see results as she lost weight and started feeling better. She started to interact with the staff regularly and spent more time 'trying' to groom herself anyway.

The Thanksgiving holiday was fast approaching and as our boarding area started to fill up with other kitties, we discussed where Fiona would stay. She was used to having full roam of the boarding area and we wanted to keep her physically active over the long weekend. Tracy, one of our dedicated veterinary technicians, was kind enough to offer to bring Fiona home with her for the holidays. Arizona Maine Coon Cat Rescue was happy to approve the request and Fiona was off to her new temporary placement. At home Tracy also had a 70 pound German Shepard, two other kitties and a son. It would be a good test since no one knew how Fiona would respond to other animals and children.

It didn't take long before Leo, Mrs. Meow Meow, Snickers and Tracy's son, Frankie, were all smitten with rolly polly Fiona and getting along famously. As the next week passed we started wondering when Fiona would come back to the clinic to be placed for adoption. Needless to say, Fiona had already found her new forever home and wouldn't be coming back. She couldn't be in better hands and is continuing to lose weight as she plays all day with her new brothers and sisters! Fiona has adjusted very quickly and is a happy kitty to have found a home for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Diabetes and Our Companion Animals

According to the
American Diabetes Association, 24 million children and adults in the United States live with diabetes. Another 57 million Americans are at risk for type 2 diabetes. With trends like these one out of every three children born today will face a future with diabetes. It’s a very serious disease that leads to potentially life threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.

What many might not realize is that our companion animals, such as dogs and cats, are suffering from this debilitating disease as well. Diabetes is one of the most common endocrine (hormonal) diseases of cats. Catching the disease early is crucial for the health of pets. Some of the symptoms to look for include increased thirst (polydipsia) and increased urination (polyuria). Other signs may include weight loss despite an increase in appetite. In order to diagnose the disease accurately, diagnostic tests should be run to determine the underlying cause of the diabetes. These tests will also be used to exclude other diseases and help guide subsequent treatment recommendations. With long-term treatment and dedication diabetes is a treatable condition.

Prevention of diabetes is the best course of action and should start with regular veterinary check-ups, proper weight management and diagnostic testing.

Dr. Judy Karnia, a leading cat practitioner from the Scottsdale Cat Clinic regularly diagnoses the condition: “We find diabetes in many older overweight cats. Treatment can be very successful if the disorder is diagnosed early in the course of the disease and the cat's owner is very careful with the insulin given and food offered. Some cats will even have their diabetes go into remission and no longer require insulin injections. We try to prevent the development of diabetes in our patients by working closely with all clients on proper nutrition, weight loss, and wellness blood testing.”