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My Favorite Pet Sitter

Newsletter

February 2009 Newsletter

Separation Anxiety in Cats
Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith

Signs of separation anxiety in cats may occur when the cat is separated from his owner or another companion pet with whom he has a strong bond. A cat with separation anxiety may insist on being with the owner at all times, even following the owner from room to room. When the owner gets ready to leave the house, the cat may sulk and hide, or try to get between the owner and the door. When the owner returns, the cat may show an abnormally enthusiastic greeting.

Some of the behavioral problems triggered by separation anxiety in cats are the same as those seen in dogs: Vocalizing after the owner leaves, inappropriate urination or defecation (sometimes near a door or on the owner's personal items) and, less often, destructiveness (chewing, scratching). Cats may also show their distress in other, less obvious ways such as becoming too anxious to eat when left alone; or vomiting only when the owner is not there. A less common sign in cats may be excessive grooming, to the point of creating a bald spot on one or two areas of the body.

What causes separation anxiety?
It is not known for sure what causes separation anxiety in cats. It has been speculated that there may be both genetic and environmental factors involved. Being orphaned or being weaned early may predispose a kitten to developing separation anxiety. While future research will give us more information, for now, the best prevention is to try to start out with a kitten that is well-socialized and thus, hopefully, will be less likely to develop behavior problems of any type.

What should I do if I suspect my cat has separation anxiety?
The first step is to discuss the situation with your veterinarian and have your cat undergo a complete physical examination. It is important to make sure that your cat's behavior is not due to an underlying physical problem. For example, a cat which is urinating outside the litter box and/or doing a lot of howling may be developing a urinary tract obstruction or infection. A cat that is over-grooming may have a food allergy. Your veterinarian may recommend some tests including a complete blood count, a chemistry profile, urinalysis, thyroid testing, or a blood pressure check. Because separation anxiety in cats is just beginning to be studied, you may find it helpful to work with an animal behaviorist, who can help you to rule out other types of anxiety-related behaviors.

How is separation anxiety treated?
In dogs, the most effective therapy for separation anxiety often involves a combination of behavior modification and anti-anxiety medication. It is likely that this would be true in the case of cats as well.

It may be possible to make the time surrounding the owner's departure less stressful for the cat, by making some changes in the normal routine. For 15 minutes prior to leaving and upon returning home, the owner should ignore the cat. Leaving a distracting toy can be helpful. Another option is to hide very tasty food treats (cooked chicken) in various places in the house. Other toys the cat especially likes should be taken out just before the owner leaves, and put away once the owner returns. When the owner returns, the cat should basically be ignored for approximately 15 minutes.

Making the cat's environment more stimulating may help, also. A comfortable perch that allows a view from a window can provide entertainment, especially if there is a bird feeder in sight. Climbing ledges or carpeted towers with attached toys can be fun also. Leaving a radio or TV on softly can be comforting; some cats enjoy "cat videos" with sounds and pictures of birds and other small creatures. Some cats may be less anxious with another animal in the house, but this depends on the individual cat and may or may not be a good solution.

In some cases, anti-anxiety medication may also be needed for a short time period. These medications may include Buspar, Prozac, and Clomicalm. These are not labeled specifically for use in cats, and their use must be prescribed and monitored by your veterinarian.

Future research will give us more information about the incidence, cause, and treatment of separation anxiety in cats, and help us to make life better for our feline friends.

Pet Health Checkups
Courtesy of Drs Foster and Smith

Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your current pet healthcare regimen. If you have not already, incorporate a "Wellness Checkup" as part of routine care. With greater pet emphasis on preventive medicine, a biannual wellness checkup plays an important role in early diagnosis of preventable illnesses and diseases. Learn how to get the most out of your regular wellness checkups and minimize unexpected expenses.

Schedule wellness checkups every six months
A wellness checkup, also called a "wellness exam", is a modified version of the traditional annual veterinary examination. Updated to reflect the changing nature of pet care, wellness checkups take into account 1) pets age faster than humans and 2) are living longer lives. Notable health changes in dogs can develop in a relatively short period. Also, as dogs live longer, the risk of potential health conditions steadily increases. Reducing the interval between examinations increases your veterinarian's ability to detect, diagnose, and propose treatment options in a timely fashion. In this way, regularly-scheduled wellness checkups play a significant role in improving the quality of your pet's life.

What to expect - questions your veterinarian may ask you
A wellness checkup will generally consist of fundamental examinations including: identifying vaccination status, weight and general body condition, heart and respiratory rates, intestinal parasites (fecal examination), behavior and personality traits, as well as dental care needs. Your veterinarian will ask you questions to create and maintain an accurate medical history. A current medical history is one of the main tools your veterinarian uses to determine if a disease process is occurring in your dog.

WHAT'S NORMAL FOR DOGS?

 

Adult

Newborn
Puppy

Normal
Temperature(°F)

99.5°-102.5°

96°-97°

Normal Heart
Rate (beats
per min)

70-180

Over 200

Respiratory
Rate (breaths
per min)

20-40

15-35

EXAMPLES OF BASIC HEALTH QUESTIONS include topics such as nutrition or exercise regimen. Be prepared to answer questions such as: What does your dog eat and how often? What is the portion size of each meal? How active is your dog? How much exercise does your dog receive? Does your dog demonstrate signs of stiffness after exercise?

If your veterinarian detects something out of the ordinary, specific questions regarding a symptom may include: When did this symptom or sign first appear? Is it getting better or worse? Is the sign or symptom always present, or is it intermittent? Be prepared to assist your veterinarian. Monitor your pet and keep records of signs or atypical behavior. This information is valuable in making a proper diagnosis early in the course of a disease.

Engage in dialog - ask questions
Don't hesitate to ask questions. A notable benefit of the wellness checkup is the opportunity to develop and strengthen relations with your veterinarian. Simply put, biannual wellness checkups mean greater contact with your veterinarian and staff. So why not take an active role in providing and maintaining the best care for your pet? Ask your veterinarian which tests are appropriate for your dog. If you are not sure whether a certain behavior or observation is indicative of a disease, ask your veterinarian.

Discuss and determine if additional or more specialized tests are appropriate for your dog. Help your veterinarian create an individualized examination regimen by providing information specific to your pet. For example, tell your veterinarian about environmental or living conditions of your pet. Is your dog an indoor or outdoor dog? What kind of plants and wildlife are your pets exposed to? Does your dog socialize or interact with neighboring dogs or dogs with unknown vaccination history? Inform your veterinarian of recent travel destinations. Open the lines of communication to offer your veterinarian important clues to properly assess specific potential risks your pet may have been exposed to.

Work closely with your veterinarian and empower yourself with knowledge and confidence. Schedule regular wellness exams every six months and resolve to provide the best care for your pet

Pet of the Month

Congratulations to February’s pet of the month, Winter!  Winter is a beautiful, white Great Pyrenees.  She was recently interviewed by her dad, Randy, and had this to say.

Winter

How I met my family:

I was living on a farm in Loomis with my Mom, Dad, and 8 brothers and sisters.  This guy from Folsom showed up one day looking for a dog so I decided to give the suburbs a chance.

What I have to say about the companion human(s) I share our home with:

Dad's pretty cool.  I have him wrapped around my paw...now that I'm a "senior" I can get away with anything!  My Mom is cool too - she understands a girl's needs and the challenges of being beautiful.

My favorite hobbies:

Sleeping.  It takes a lot of rest to stay this beautiful.

My favorite foods:

Dad keeps me on a pretty good diet, but occasionally I do get some bread.  I would have to say pita is my favorite.  I'll do almost anything for a piece of bread.  Once I ate a whole pecan pie on Thanksgiving...if you don't want the dog to eat it, don't leave it out!

My favorite toys:

My bed.

My most exciting adventures:

I've been there and done it all.  Now I like to sit by the folks on my bed and reminisce about the wild days of my youth.

My idea of a perfect day:

A couple walks around the block with a trip to the park.  Rounded off with a good meal and a movie with the folks and I am a happy girl.

Secret skills or abilities that few people know about me:

I can make anyone pet me.

What we like most about our pet sitters:

They get me:  Walk, pet, feed, love, repeat.

Service Announcements

We are starting to get several requests for spring and summer trips already, so let us know if you have a trip planned.  Easter and spring break are just a couple months away.

Focus on Fundraising

On May 2, 2009, Folsom Feline Rescue will be selling items at the Lembi Park yard sale in Folsom.  We do this every year to raise money for community spay/neuter programs for both dogs and cats.  If you have items you’d like to donate to our sale, please let me know.

Pet Humor

This is a cute video of a young deer and a kitten in the woods, shown to the song “What a Wonderful World”.  Click here: YouTube - Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World

   
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