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Learn All About Feline Diabetes: Prevention, Symptoms, Treatment and Diet

November is American Diabetes Month®, and humans aren’t the only ones at risk of developing diabetes. Approximately 1 in 200 cats in the United States suffer from diabetes.  What is diabetes? Diabetes mellitus, commonly called just diabetes, is a disorder that occurs when the body is unable to regulate the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. There are two types of diabetes, type-1 and type-2. Type-1 diabetes, also known as insulin dependent diabetes, occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone released when blood sugar levels are high, called hyperglycemia, such as after meals. Insulin directs cells in the body to move sugar out of the blood stream and into cells for storage or energy. Type-2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes or insulin resistance, occurs when the body becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin. Even though insulin is still being produced, blood sugars levels become elevated. Regardless of the cause, both forms of diabetes result in chronically elevated blood sugar levels that damage capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the body. The damage to capillaries may lead to different complications. What causes diabetes in pets?  Diabetes is influenced by both inherited and environmental factors. Genetics seem to be an important risk factor in dogs, and certain breeds, like Keeshonds and Samoyeds, are more likely to develop diabetes. Age is another important risk factor. Though it can affect animals of any age, it is more common in middle-aged and older animals.  Obesity is a major risk factor for type-2 diabetes, which is more common in cats. Fat tissue impairs the effects of insulin and leads to insulin resistance. Unfortunately, obesity in pets is becoming more prevalent. It is estimated that more than half of all cats in the United States are overweight and at risk of developing diabetes. Fortunately, diet and weight loss play an important role in the treatment of type-2 diabetes.       How is diabetes treated or managed? While there is no cure for diabetes, it is a manageable condition. Just like diabetes in people, diabetes in pets can be controlled with medications and lifestyle changes. The goal of treatment is to stabilize blood sugar levels by preventing them from getting too high or too low. This can be achieved with some combination of diet, insulin and at-home monitoring. There are several different types of insulin available with different durations of action, your veterinarian will assess your pet to determine which type of insulin will be best for your particular pet. In addition to insulin, diet and weight loss are just as important when it comes to treating diabetes in pets. Recent nutritional studies show that switching to a low-carbohydrate and high-protein canned food diet is the most effective dietary routine for most diabetic cats. Your veterinarian will work with you to determine what if any nutritional changes are necessary for your cat. Weight loss is also important because obesity is a common cause of insulin resistance. Fatty tissue releases factors that impair the effects of insulin. To promote weight loss, you should increase your cat’s daily exercise (yes you can get your cat to exercise), in addition to following your veterinarian’s dietary suggestions.   Photo by Piotr Musioł on Unsplash What are the common signs and symptoms of diabetes in cats?  The classic symptoms of diabetes are: Increased thirst Increased appetite Increased urination Lethargic Weight loss Dull coat It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes so that you can promptly seek veterinary care if you notice any of these in your pets. Of course, it’s important to mention that cats are very adept at hiding illness so these symptoms may be difficult to recognize initially. That’s why regular veterinary check-ups are so important. Annual examinations and diagnostic tests help to uncover diseases, like diabetes, early when they are typically easier to treat or manage.   How do you know if your cat has diabetes?  Diabetes can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian. If you think your cat may have diabetes, see your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can diagnose diabetes with simple blood and urine tests. These fast and easy diagnostic tests allow your veterinarian to detect abnormally high levels of sugar in your pet’s bloodstream and also look for the presence of sugar or sugar breakdown products in their urine.   What’s the treatment?  Fortunately, diabetes is a treatable disease. The goal of treatment is to avoid the complications of diabetes by providing stable blood sugar levels. This can be achieved with some combination of diet, weight loss and insulin. There are several different types of insulin available with different durations of action. Your veterinarian will determine which type of insulin will be best for your particular pet. If your cat is overweight, your veterinarian will likely change their diet. Recent nutritional studies have found that switching to a low-carbohydrate and high-protein canned food diet is the most effective dietary intervention for diabetic cats. To promote weight loss, follow your veterinarian’s feeding recommendations and encourage active play.  With the right medications, diet and weight loss, diabetes can be controlled.  It is important to realize that if caught early and treated with insulin and diet, diabetic cats can go into remission, which means their blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose levels, remain stable for more than a month without insulin injections or oral medications. Studies have shown that diabetic cats have remission rates that have been reported to range from 15%–100%. Predictors of diabetic remission in cats include achieving excellent blood sugar control within 6 months of diagnosis and regular home monitoring. Even if your cat does not go into remission, the goal of diabetes treatment is to reduce symptoms and avoid complications of uncontrolled diabetes.     Take home message Diabetes is an increasingly common problem in older cats. Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of diabetes and watch for their development in your pet. Take your cat to your veterinarian for regular examinations and screening tests. Remember it is always best to catch diseases early before they become advanced and lead to complications. If your cat has diabetes, remember that diabetes is a manageable disease and with treatment cats with diabetes can live long healthy lives.  FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DIABETES SPEAK WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN.  The makers of okocat® natural litter are not only dedicated to making the best cat litter, they are also committed to helping cats live longer, healthier lives. By providing educational articles like this one, they hope to educate pet parents about important cat health topics.    
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5 Quick Tips on What to do About Scary Cat Odors

Is your house haunted by scary cat odors? Is your cute cat really the source of those alarming aromas? Here are a few ways you can exorcise those ghastly gases from your home.   Oral Hygiene According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 70% of cats already have dental disease by the time they are 3 years old. Not only does dental disease cause bad kitty breath, but it can also lead to tooth loss, pain, and infection. Avoid dental disease and “kitty” breath by promoting good oral hygiene in your cats. Take your pet to the veterinarian for yearly examinations. Your veterinarian will check your cat’s mouth and teeth and let you know if professional dental cleaning is necessary. Help keep their teeth clean in between visits with regular brushing using pet-safe toothpaste. Yes, you can brush your cat’s teeth and it’s not as scary as you may think. Cat toothpaste comes in some amazing flavors like seafood, tuna and chicken. What’s not to like? Promote good habits by starting early with your kitten so that brushing becomes part of the daily routine.   Grooming Having a luxurious coat comes with a cost. Besides the daily brushing and frequent grooming necessary to keep their coat beautiful and free of mats, cats with long coats need extra care, from top to “bottom.” As anyone who has a cat with a long coat knows, pets with long hair often get “dingle berries,” the illustrative name given to stool caught in their hair. Besides the obvious problem with odor, this can cause more serious issues like skin irritations and infections. To prevent this smelly and embarrassing problem from occurring, keep your cat’s bottom clean and trimmed. Some veterinarians and groomers offer “sanitary clips” that can keep this vulnerable area groomed to prevent issues. While cats rarely need a bath because they are meticulous self-groomers, they do occasionally get dirty and need a good cleaning. Be sure to use a pet shampoo that is tear-free and gentle on your cat’s skin and fur. If your cat really hates baths, consider a waterless pet shampoo.   Waste Management Cats are naturally clean animals. They groom themselves. They use a litterbox. But they don’t use a toilet and they certainly don’t flush. To prevent your home from smelling like a landfill, follow these simple steps. First, choose a high-quality litter for your cat, like ökocat. ökocat is made from natural wood fibers that absorb urine on contact and stop the creation of smelly ammonia. Second, scoop the litter box or boxes daily to control unwanted odors and encourage healthy litter box use. Third, dispose of the waste promptly. Following these steps will allow you to have a cat without having your house smell scary.   Messes Clean up any pet messes immediately and use high quality cleaners to eliminate odors. Pets occasionally have accidents. Be sure all accidents are cleaned up right away with a pet odor eliminating cleaner. Cats will often soil in the same area if it wasn’t cleaned sufficiently, and they can still smell the odor. Likewise, anyone that has a cat knows they occasionally vomit too. Using a good pet cleaner is key to cleaning up surprises left by our feline friends and removing those unpleasant odors.   Health Check. Finally, odors can be a sign of disease. Dental disease, ear infections, oral tumors, anal gland impactions, and skin infections are just a few of the diseases that can cause pet odors. If you detect a new smell or odor emanating from your pet, be sure to have your cat checked out by your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Odors can be scary but by following these tips, you can rid your home of spooky smells.  
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Top tips to keep your cat safe at home!

A cat’s insatiable curiosity is an incredibly endearing feline trait. While it is a sign of their intelligence, their inquisitive nature can also get them into trouble. After all, there is a reason for the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” So what can pet parents do to protect their feline friends? How can they cat-proof their home? To keep their cats safe, pet parents need to recognize and address these common household dangers.   Kitchen and Laundry Room Cats have a knack for getting into things. Unfortunately, the kitchen or laundry room can be a hazardous place for curious kitties. Keep appliance doors closed: If your cat gets into a grocery bag or purse, it’s cute. If your cat gets into the dishwasher, oven, washer, or dryer, it can be lethal. Animals have been hurt or even killed when someone turns on the appliance without realizing their pet is inside. Preventing these tragedies is simple: always keep lids and doors closed and check before turning on the appliance. Don’t leave food unattended: Cats also have an amazing sense of smell and seem to know where to find tasty food. Keep foods that are toxic to cats, such as chocolate and alcohol, out of their reach. Also keep them away from poultry bones that can splinter and get lodged in their gastrointestinal tract. To avoid these problems, keep unattended food off tables and counters and dispose of leftovers in a covered garbage can to prevent garbage surfing. Keep cleaners tucked away: Be sure to store detergents and household cleaners safely out of your feline’s reach.   Living Room At first glance, the living room may seem like a safe haven. Unfortunately, first impressions can be deceiving. Place breakables out of reach: Our carefully placed decorations can also draw the unwanted attention of our curious cats. Bright, shiny, and especially fragile objects seem to beckon our curious feline friends to play with them. If knocked over and shattered, glass and ceramic fragments are razor sharp and can cut unsuspecting paws. Don’t leave lit candles unsupervised: Little paws can do more than break fragile decorations. Lit candles that are knocked over can burn your pet, or even worse, cause a household fire. Know which plants are feline-friendly: Even decorative plants can be deadly. Before you bring any plants or flowers to your home, check to make sure they are not poisonous to your cat. Lilies, for example, are highly toxic to cats and consumption of any part of the plant can lead to kidney failure and death. Keep electrical cords out of reach: They can electrocute your pet if chewed upon or strangle your pet if they get tangled in the cord. Check under your recliners: Finally, before your sit down and relax in your recliner or rocking chair, always make sure your cat hasn’t curled up beneath it.    Bathroom The bathroom ranks as the smallest room in a typical house, but what it lacks in square footage it makes up for in hazards. Toss the floss: What’s good for your teeth may not be good for your cat. Flossing may be what the dentist ordered, but flossing can actually be dangerous to our cats. Cats are often drawn to linear objects like yarn and dental floss. Ingesting a linear object can cause an intestinal obstruction that can be fatal if not treated with emergent surgery. Floss to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Just remember to dispose of your floss in a covered garbage can. Don’t leave the curler on: Lastly, be careful with hot hairdryers and curling irons that can burn an unsuspecting, curious cat’s nose.   Garage The garage is usually the most dangerous place in your home for your cat. Garages are stockpiles of hazardous chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. Be wary of chemicals: Make sure all chemicals are safely put away. Some chemicals, like antifreeze, have an appealing sweet smell that can entice a curious pet for a taste. Unfortunately even a mere taste can be lethal. Safely store your pesticides: Insecticides, rodenticides, and fertilizers can also be toxic. Pesticides are the most dangerous because they are often sweetened or scented to attract pests and cats can become their unintended victims.   You can never protect your pet from every possible hazard. However, you can take these measures to make your home safer for your pets and protect them from these common household dangers. Following these suggestions can help keep your cats safe and prevent unscheduled emergency visits to the veterinarian. ökocat is not only dedicated to making the best cat litter, but also committed to helping cats live longer, healthier lives by educating pet parents about important cat health topics.
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Cat Not Using the Litter Box? Top Reasons Why and How to Fix Them!

It can be very upsetting when your cat urinates outside their litter box. Feline inappropriate elimination (FIE), or house soiling, can be a challenging problem to solve, leaving many feeling overwhelmed. In fact, FIE is one the main behavioral reasons why people relinquish their cats to shelters. By becoming familiar with FIE, you can hopefully prevent it from developing or know how to curtail it.  Before treating FIE as a behavioral problem, medical causes need to be excluded. Inappropriate urination can be due to kidney or bladder infections, diabetes, kidney failure, bladder or kidney stones, or even cancer of the genitourinary system. FIE may be the presenting symptom for a disease in an otherwise healthy cat. Make sure your veterinarian excludes medical causes before you accuse your cat of bad behavior!  Marking their territory Many cats urinate outside the litter box because of their instincts. In the wild, cats mark the boundaries of their territory to keep others away. Not surprisingly, domestic cats have kept this behavior. In particular, unneutered male cats are more likely to mark or “spray” outside of the litter box. Often neutering can prevent or correct this behavior, especially when done at 6 months of age or younger. Sometimes, even neutered male cats or female cats can become territorial. If multiple cats are sharing one litter box, cats will often “claim” the litter box by marking it. Make sure you have multiple litter boxes in different locations to help prevent this behavior and consider using feline pheromones to “calm” territorial disputes.  Location Like in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Cats, like us, need privacy when using the bathroom. Placing the litter box in a high traffic or noisy location will deter many cats from using it. Be sure to place the litter box in a quiet location where your cat will not be disturbed, otherwise it may fear the litter box. Also, make sure the litter box is easily accessible. Older cats with arthritis may have trouble climbing stairs so place the litter box close to where they spend most of their time.  Preferences Most people know cats can be picky: they are picky eaters, they are picky about whom they like and they are picky about when they want to be loved. It should not be surprising that they can also be picky about litter or their litter box. Fortunately, ökocat makes different formulations to suit your cat’s fancy. “Original premium” has a natural texture and scent, “super soft” has a soft texture similar to clay, “less mess” has small pellets that are less likely to stick to your cats’ fur, “featherweight” has a soft texture and is their lightest litter, and “dust free” is a non-clumping paper pellet that is ideal for cats with respiratory issues or after surgery. If you change litters, make sure you change the litter gradually. Some cats may be picky about their litter box; some prefer open litter boxes, while others like the privacy of a covered litter box. Watch for these preferences and remove or add a cover based on your cat’s desires.  Accessibility As cats get older, arthritis becomes more common. Arthritis is a progressive, painful joint disease that limits mobility. Arthritic cats may have trouble getting in and out of traditional litter boxes and end-up going outside of the litter box. This problem can be resolved by using “low profile” litter boxes or boxes with a ramp. Likewise, soft litter, like ökocat “super soft” and ökocat “featherweight” are easier on an arthritic cat’s joints.   Dirty litter boxes Cats are very clean animals. They meticulously groom themselves. It should be no surprise that they prefer clean litter boxes. The presence of waste and the smell of ammonia in a dirty litter box can deter a cat from using it and force them to go elsewhere. Keeping the litter box clean is a chore that is often neglected. However, keeping the litter box clean is often the only way to cure inappropriate urination. If you can’t scoop daily, consider an automatic self-cleaning litter box or try teaching your kitty to use the toilet (yes, it is possible with training and patience, but don’t expect them to flush).   Solving FIE By knowing the causes of FIE, you can hopefully prevent it from developing. Since bad habits are hard to break, it is easier to prevent a behavioral problem than to treat one. But what do you do if your cat already house soils?    First, rule out medical causes. Once they have been excluded, the approach to correcting FIE can be divided into 3 steps: cleaning up the accident, preventing future accidents, and making the litter box more inviting.  All accidents must be cleaned up completely. Use cleaning products that completely remove or neutralize the urine smell. Cat’s sense of smell is 14x more sensitive than ours. If a cat can still smell the scent of urine, they will be drawn there and will continue to soil in that location.  In order to prevent future accidents, make the location less attractive. Use products to deter cats from house soiling such as scat mats, double-sided sticky tape, crinkly runners, aluminum foil, and noise canisters. By making the site of the crime unappealing, it will encourage your cat to choose a more appropriate location (i.e. the litter box).  Finally, make the litter box more inviting. The most important step is to keep it clean. Also choose litter and a litter box that caters to your cat’s preferences. Make sure you provide enough litter boxes for everyone (the rule of thumb is one litter box for cat plus one). Finally, feline pheromones can help with territorial issues.  FIE can be a frustrating problem. By knowing the most common behavioral causes of this problem, you can help prevent it from developing or treat a pre-existing problem. If these problems persist, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist.
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Bigger is Better for Your Small Pets

Many people are drawn to smaller pets like hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs due to space constraints. But the fact is even though these pets are small, when it comes to caring for them,  bigger is better. Small pets do better with larger habitats, more bedding, ample hay, and lots of exercise and socialization.  Large Habitat They may be little but even small pets need elbow room. A larger habitat allows pets room for exercise and more space to sleep, eat and play. There is a body of literature supporting the health benefits of a larger cage size. These studies show benefits with reproduction, lifespan activity, and other positive effects.  Since you can’t take your gerbil on a walk, their habitat needs to be larger enough to accommodate exercise wheels and space to run around.  More Bedding Likewise providing ample bedding is preferred as it allows pets to dig, tunnel and forage for treats. Having plenty of bedding also helps keeps their enclosure clean and dry. Soiled bedding not only smells bad but can lead to medical problems. In particular it can lead to pododermatitis, more commonly known as bumblefoot, which is an inflammation of the skin of the paws and feet. Bumblefoot is common in rodents and small animals that are housed on abrasive surfaces, (like wire) and those that have prolonged contact with wet or soiled bedding. Bumblefoot causes red, swollen, painful feet and lameness. Left untreated it can lead to severe infections, arthritis, and chronic inflammation of the tendons. To prevent health issues like pododermatitis, be sure your pets always have plenty of soft absorbent bedding like carefresh, spot clean as needed, and change bedding regularly. Avoid using cedar chips or pine materials which may be toxic to some animals.   Ample Hay Fresh grass hay is a vital component of a small pet’s diet and has many health benefits. Hay provides essential fiber. Dietary fiber stimulates gut motility and helps promote normal healthy stools. Dietary fiber also helps reduce the risk of obesity. Certain small animals, like rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs, need hay for their dental health. Their teeth grow continuously, and hay satisfies their natural need to chew and helps wear down their teeth so that they do not become overgrown. Finally, hay keeps small pets busy and helps prevent boredom. Be sure your small pet has ample high-quality grass at all times. Speak with your veterinarian to learn which type of hay is best for your pet. Exercise & Socialization Just like us, small pets need exercise and socialization. The more the better. Provide your pet exercise wheels, tubes and/or play structures that allow them to climb, explore and run. Don’t forget you can take your little critters out of their cage for exercise too. Hamster balls are great fun for hamsters, humans and even entertainment for curious cats. Larger animals like, guinea Pigs and rabbits enjoy exercising in exercise pens that can be set up inside or outside (always be sure to supervise them especially if they are outside). In addition to exercise all pets need companionship and socialization. Be sure to give your pets lots of love, cuddles and pets. The more love the better.   Exception to the rule In the case of food and fruits and veggies, more is not better. Too much fruit can lead to obesity and gastrointestinal problems. Likewise, too much commercial food like pellets can also lead to an overweight pet. The best way to prevent over feeding or intestinal upset is to follow feeding guidelines for your particular pet’s species. Wee Companions is a great resource for information about small pet husbandry, care and nutrition and don’t forget you can also ask your veterinarian for advice.  Conclusion These pint size pets may be small, but they give lots of love. Be sure you provide them with the space, bedding, hay and exercise they deserve. And remember, in this case bigger is better.  
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