Anesthetic Recovery in Cats

    How cats recover from anesthesia depends upon three things:  1)What drugs where used for the anesthesia.  2) How long the cat was anesthetized. 3) How quickly the cat can clear the anesthetic agent from their body.  Anesthetics come in two forms, injectable and gas.  When I anesthetize a cat, I start with an sedative to calm them down and another medication to control their pain.  After it has taken effect, I give them another injection to induce anesthesia.  While they are unconscious, I place a trach tube down their throat and then hook them up to an anesthetic machine that keeps them asleep with a mixture of gas and oxygen.  When surgery is over, the gas is turned off but they are still kept on oxygen until they show signs of waking up such as blinking, swallowing, twitching and more muscular tone in their jaws.  Most cats will wake up after 5-10 minutes of straight oxygen therapy.   Since they can’t control their body temperature when anesthetized, they are cold when waking up.  We wrap them in warm towels and provide supplemental heat until they are back to normal.  After surgery, I want the cat to remain quiet.  The cat is transferred back to their hospital cage to sleep it off.

    When you pick up your cat after surgery, here is what you need to know.  Many of the medicines used to control pain will make them groggy for several hours.  Separate your cat from other animals and allow them to rest.  Give them a space of their own like a crate, bedroom or bathroom to sleep it off.  Offer small amounts of water and food but do not force them to eat or drink.  Give medications as directed by your veterinarian.  During anesthesia, your cat’s eyes were treated with lube to protect them.  The lube is messy and makes the cat looks like it was crying.  This is normal.  Simply wipe the excess of with a damp cloth.  Iodine solutions are often used to clean the surgical site.  The yellow stains on your cat’s skin are iodine, not urine.  Lastly, anesthesia often makes cats more clingy and emotional.  My rule of thumb is for every hour of anesthesia, the cat will be needy for a month.  

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A Veterinarian’s Perspective on Pet Food Recalls

    Pet food recalls seem to be in the news quite often these days.  The melamine toxicity scandal killed many animals and made us all more aware of what we feed our beloved pets.  Many people have traded commercial diets for home cooked ones but sometimes end up hurting the animals because the diets are not balanced and complete.  So, what do the recalls really mean?  Here are my thoughts on pet food recalls.
    As a veterinarian, I receive e-mail alerts regarding pet food recalls.  The first thing I want to know is whether the recall is voluntary or mandatory?  If the recall is mandatory, I know that the product actually sickened animals who consumed the product and/or people who came into contact with the product.  This leads me to question the company behind the product because their own in-house testing to insure product safety should have caught this.  Is their testing flawed or did they decide to sell it anyway to make a quick buck?  Either way, I stop using products from companies under mandatory recalls until there is a management change.
    In contrast, a voluntary recall occurs when a company finds a problem through their own testing.  They recall the product immediately to prevent sickening pets and/or people even though it will harm them financially.  I applaud companies who voluntarily recall their products and feel good about their ethics and commitment to good science and safety.  I continue to utilize their products once reintroduced.  
    To receive more information on pet food recalls, I recommend signing up for alerts from the FDA.  Here is the link

Online Puppy Mills Are Finally Regulated By The USDA

Due to a loophole in Animal Welfare Act regulations, puppy mills were able to sell animals on-line without any regulation from the USDA.  Because of this, many animals suffered in horrific conditions with no veterinary care.  Thanks to public outcry led by the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Doris Day Animal League, this loophole has been closed.  The on-line dealers will be subject to the same regulations as everyone else.  I would like to thank all the members of congress who worked together across party lines to make this happen.  More information can be found at the HSUS website 

Although this will improve the conditions at puppy mills, it is still a horrible life for the animals destined to these conditions.  Therefore, I would encourage everyone to work with a reputable local breeder.  Better yet, my favorite solution is to adopt from shelters or rescue groups.  


Cats With Cystitis

    Feline cystitis is a common problem in cats.  Inflammation develops in the urinary bladder causing pain.  Normally, cats urinate twice a day and defecate once a day.  Cats with cystitis will make frequent trips to the litter box producing small amounts of urine each time.  As the pain worsens, they often urinate in unusual places and meow loudly to get attention.  If their cries for help are ignored, grit from the bladder may form a plug in male cats.  The poor cat strains to pass urine but cannot because of the plug.  As time goes by, the urine builds up in the bladder causing excruciating pain.  Toxins from the urine are also absorbed into the cat’s blood stream.  If the blockage isn’t relieved soon, the bladder will rupture or the cat will go into shock.  Both conditions are usually fatal. 

     Early treatment is the key to treating this disease.  If your cat is straining to urinate, seek medical attention right away.  Do not wait overnight to see if it will improve by morning.  If your cat has been diagnosed with cystitis, keep them on the diet and medication prescribed by your veterinarian.  Even though many over-the-counter products claim to be formulated for urinary tract health, they are not made to the same strict requirements as prescription food.  That is why a prescription is required.  I have seen many cats block again when switched to a non-prescription food.  The expense of treating the cat far outweighed the small savings in the price of the food.  More important, the poor cat suffers terribly because the owner is trying to pinch pennies.  Lastly, encourage the cat to drink a lot of water to help flush the bladder.  Many cats enjoy drinking from a fountain.      

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You Make The Diagnosis: Swollen Eyelid

Pictured below is a young Boxer with a swollen lower eyelid.  His foster mom let him out to play in the backyard and he returned looking like this.  Other than a swollen eye, this pup is in good health.  List the most likely causes of this condition then scroll down for the answer. 

Diagnosis:  The most common causes are: 1) Allergic reaction usually from an insect.  2) Ocular foreign body causing patient to rub eye. 3) Infection 

Below is the foreign body I removed from his eye.  It looked like a piece of a plant stem. I found it hiding behind the third eyelid.  Ouch! 


Mammary Gland Hyperplasia in Cats

Mammary gland hyperplasia is a relatively uncommon condition in cats.  One or more mammary glands swell up due to hormonal changes thought to be associated with progesterone levels.  I have seen this condition develop most frequently a few weeks after a young queen is spayed.  It may also develop in intact females after their first heat cycle during pseudopregnancy.  Male and female cats exposed to human progesterone creams may experience mammary gland enlargement. Pictured below is a young cat who developed mammary gland hyperplasia and mastitis about 3 weeks after her spay.   

Treatment for mammary gland hyperplasia involves removing the source of progesterone.  In my experience, most glands will slowly shrink until they are back to normal in 3 weeks.  The exception to this is with exposure to human progesterone creams.  It may take up to a year for the glands to revert to normal after exposure.  The cat pictured above made a full recovery with antibiotics and warm compresses to treat the mastitis.  We also expressed the infected gland once per day to decrease pressure.  It seemed to make her feel better.  For animals in which sterilization is not an option, drug therapies are available to help decrease progesterone concentrations. 

Veterinary Orthopedic Implants

Ethics matter.  I usually try to keep the blog fairly upbeat but every once and awhile, ethical concerns need to be presented for your consideration.  A few months ago, I used a product from Veterinary Orthopedic Implants in one of my patients.  I was very unhappy with the performance of the product so I contacted the company.  The response from Dr. Claude Gendreau (Co-founder and CEO of Veterinary Orthopedic Implants) as well as his nephew, Mr. Patrick Gendreau (President and co-owner of Veterinary Orthopedic Implants) disappointed me at many levels.  In my experience, ethical companies respond quickly, fully  
and bend over backwards to care for the patient and their clients.  Unfortunately, that is not my perception of their response in this case.  I even provided repeated opportunities for them to step up and do the right thing.

Contrast that to my experience with Nutros.  Many years ago, one of my patient’s became ill from his dog food.  While this is rare, it can happen to any manufacturer.  Nutros paid for the dog’s care and he made a full recovery.  I think we would all agree that reputable companies take responsibility for their products just like Nutros did.  Therefore and regrettably, I can not recommend using products from Veterinary Orthopedic Implants.  If your pet is having surgery requiring an implant such as a plate or screw, ask who the vendor is that the hospital uses?  If the answer is Veterinary Orthopedic Implants, you will have to decide but in my opinion, there are many other vendors I am more comfortable using to provide such vital technology.