Tuesday, June 22, 2010


As I get ready for the next Polite Puppy class this Sunday I wanted to be sure I didn’t neglect the kitty owners. The shelters are always overflowing with these tiny little balls of fur in need of a home. At Friendship we offer a Kitten Plan that includes all wellness kitten visits, fecal testing, deworming, core vaccinations and ten percent off the spay or neuter.

The core vaccines for cats are rabies and feline distemper. I often hear people say that their cat does not need to be vaccinated for rabies since they do not go outside. First this is against the law, all cats and dogs must be vaccinated for rabies. What owners don’t usually think of is there are numerous scenarios where your cat could be considered a rabies suspect and be euthanized against your will.

Picture this: Mittens an unvaccinated, indoor cat darts out the back door and returns home a few hours later with a bite wound from an unknown animal. The wound needs medical attention so Mittens’ owner brings her to the veterinarian. She is extremely painful and scared; in an effort to protect herself she bites one of the veterinary technicians while she is being treated. While the odds are she does not have rabies, since this disease is one hundred percent fatal the person who was bitten has the legal right to have Mittens put to sleep for rabies testing. This horrid situation could have been completely avoided with a simple vaccine.

The second core vaccine for cats is feline distemper. This combination vaccine protects against common viruses that cause upper respiratory and gastrointestinal disease in cats. Also available is the feline leukemia vaccine which is usually recommended in cats that are going to go outside. On that note I ask that you please do not let your cats outside. On average indoor cats live to twelve to fifteen years, the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is two years. There are countless dangers such as cars, chemical toxins, poisonous plants, infectious diseases, and fighting with other cats or wild animals.

If you are worried that your cat will be bored inside please visit the Indoor Cat Initiative website for tips on how to enrich your indoor kitty’s life. All cat owners should also apply a topical product such as Advantage Multi or Revolution to protect your cat against heartworm disease, fleas and ticks. Even if you keep your kitty safely inside they are still exposed to these pesky insects and need protection just as much as dogs do. Kittens are incredibly cute and always entertaining to watch as they race around your house. Follow these simple guidelines to get your new kitten off on a healthy paw.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Interns!

I can’t believe how fast time goes by! This week Friendship will welcome six new doctors into our 2010 intern class and it amazes me that another year has flown by already. I am reminded of my first day four years ago, fresh out veterinary school and completely terrified. There is no way I could withstand the rigors of the program today, a straight week of 14 hour overnight shifts - No thanks! That challenging year was well worth it and I can say with complete confidence it has made me a better veterinarian.

Friendship is one of the few veterinary hospitals in the area qualified to offer an internship program for recent veterinary school graduates. It makes huge contributions to our patient care and to those fortunate veterinarians participating in the program. Internships are highly competitive. Only the most talented and motivated of new graduates seek advanced clinical training. Friendship accepts only about one out of every five applicants to its internship program. We are proud of our program and I consider myself lucky to have completed it.

Unlike medical doctors--who are required to do an internship plus a residency before beginning to practice--most veterinarians enter general practice immediately after graduation and begin practicing medicine. Alternatively, a new graduate can apply for a position in an elective, year-long program of post graduate clinical training, working side-by-side with senior veterinarians with years of experience. These programs are provided by veterinary colleges or busy, multi-doctor hospitals like Friendship.

For the fortunate graduates who are accepted, this is an exciting opportunity to obtain an enormous amount of clinical experience while also being mentored by more senior veterinarians. These programs are completely optional and very demanding. At Friendship, our interns work grueling hours and commit an entire year of their lives so that they can become even better doctors. Some go on to complete residencies in the specialty of their choice, while others, like myself, enter general practice.

From time to time, I have heard pet owners say, "I don't want an intern working on my pet." My response is: Our interns are the best of the new vet school graduates. Not only have they just spent four years learning the latest advances in veterinary medicine from specialists at their respective schools, but they benefit from the fulltime mentoring of Friendship’s highly experienced senior veterinarians.

So let’s give a hand to these doctors for their enthusiasm, dedication to veterinary medicine, willingness to learn from their colleagues, and their desire to be the best veterinarian they can be. To learn more about our current inters please visit the Friendship Hospital for Animals website.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Weight loss for cats

One of the most challenging tasks for cat owners is trying to get your kitty to drop a few pounds. Unfortunately this is also the most common recommendation I make to owners after an annual exam. Essentially all cats do all day, every day is lay around and occasionally get up to eat. This lifestyle makes it very difficult to encourage weight loss.
Cat’s bodies were designed to eat multiple small, high protein, high fat meals a day. What the average indoor kitty eats is one to two large meals that are very high in carbohydrates. In addition they do not have to move around or hunt to find their food, we dump it all into a bowl right in front if them. They then devour the food as quickly as possible.
This combination of little exercise and high carb diets has led to astounding rates of obesity in cats. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 53% of cats in America are overweight and 19% of these are considered obese. This puts them at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and degenerative joint disease – all of which are potentially preventable.
It may seem the answer is letting your cat head outdoors in an effort to work off some of those calories but I do not recommend this. On average indoor cats live to twelve to fifteen years, the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is two years. There are countless dangers such as cars, chemical toxins, poisonous plants, infectious diseases, and fighting with other cats or wild animals.

So, what can you do to help your indoor cat lose weight? My favorite recommendation is to divide their daily food allowance between multiple small bowls and hide these around the house. Your cat then has to spend the day “hunting” for his food. This is mentally stimulating for them as well as encourages physical activity. Another thing to try would be a food or treat ball. This contraption is filled with dry food and your cat needs to learn how to manipulate it to get the food to fall out.
The other component to weight loss is what you are actually feeding your cat. There are two ways to go with this. The first is a low calorie, high fiber diet that allows you kitty to eat a substantial amount and fill up. The second option is a low carb, high protein and fat diet (Atkins for kitties). In theory these diets should work as they mimic the type of food a cat’s gastrointestinal tract was designed to eat. However, these diets are very high in calories and if you feed your cat too much he can quickly pack on the pounds.
Getting your cat to lose weight is a daunting task and it is not easy. I hope some of these suggestions help because a healthy weight is essential to the overall health of your cat.