Friday, February 15, 2013

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Orange cat with fractured canine and gingivitis
Annual oral exams are important!
Many people think that as long as their cat is still eating, their dental health is great! Unfortunately, this is not often the case.

 The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) has this to say about the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease:
“Unfortunately, other than bad breath, there are few signs of the disease process evident to the owner, and professional dental cleaning and periodontal therapy often comes too late to prevent extensive disease or to save teeth. As a result, periodontal disease is usually under-treated, and may cause multiple problems in the oral cavity and may be associated with damage to internal organs in some patients as they age…. Studies in dogs have shown that periodontal disease is associated with microscopic changes in the heart, liver, and kidneys.”

Feline resorptive lesion on a canine tooth
Resorptive lesion has broken through the tooth from below
In cats and dogs, much dental disease occurs beneath the gum tissue where we can’t see it – so even if your cat’s teeth are pearly white, there may be problems eating away at the tissues that keep your cat’s teeth firmly rooted in their sockets. Most cat “cavities” or resorptive lesions start below the gumline as well, eroding the roots of the teeth first, before they start to affect the crown or visible portion of the tooth. These resorptive lesions are so painful that even while sleeping under anesthesia, cats will react strongly to gentle probing of the affected tooth! In the canine tooth pictured here, a small red defect in the tooth is visible, but if you look at the x-ray pictured below, most of the internal structure of the tooth is destroyed, and the root of the tooth has completely fused with the jaw. This cat had already lost the other lower canine to disease.

Because of this, it is generally a good idea to have your cat’s teethcleaned before visible disease appears. If we can clean the teeth before they are damaged, we can keep the periodontal ligament healthy and strong, and help prevent damage that may cause the loss of your cat’s teeth.

Radiograph of a diseased canine tooth
Tooth destruction
In addition to scheduling regular, routine dental cleanings as insurance against oral decay, you can supplement your cat’s diet with oral health diets such as Science Diet Oral Care or Royal Canin Oral Sensitive 30, or any diet that has a larger-sized kibble that cats have to actually crunch on. Most cats that eat regular maintenance diets end up swallowing the majority of their tiny dry kibble whole! The Veterinary Oral Health Council has compiled a list of foods, treats and oral health products that have been scientifically proven to improve oral health in cats and dogs.

Just imagine what your own mouth would feel like if you went for long periods of time without brushing your teeth! According to the AmericanAnimal Hospital Association, dental check-ups should begin when your patient is five months old. At Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital, we look in your cat’s mouth at every visit! We recommend a fluoride treatment around 6 months of age, and at that time, your cat gets a full oral exam under anesthesia with dental charting of his or her baseline oral health. We can also make sure that all of your cat’s baby teeth have fallen out and all the adult teeth have erupted appropriately. Just like some humans need orthodontic care because their bite is not correct, some cats have misaligned teeth that can eventually cause sores in the mouth, jaw pain or difficulty eating. Once we have recorded your cat’s baseline oral health, we can then make an individualized recommendation on when next to schedule an oral exam or cleaning. At minimum, your cat’s teeth should be examined once a year.

VOHC Greenies treats
Greenies treats - available in our office in 5 yummy flavors!
There are many reasons to take an active role in promoting good oral health in your cat. Periodontal disease is a very hard-to-detect infection that can not only cause pain when eating, but causes bone loss in the jaw and tooth loss, as well as heart, liver and kidney disease in the long run.  If such an infection were not hidden inside the mouth, but plainly evident on the bodies of our cats, it would be much more obvious the level of concern this matter should cause. Unfortunately, because our cats are often resistant to having their mouths examined, so oral health tends to be more “out of sight, out of mind”.

If it has been a while since your cat has had his or her teeth examined, celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month by calling your veterinary hospital and scheduling a checkup!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Meet Miss February!


I am so excited to be the “February cat” for Exclusively Cats calendar. When my mom took my calendar picture she was not even sure I was going to survive as I was a very sick cat. I was between six and seven months old and only weighed 3.9lbs. Since she was submitting photos of all the family felines for the calendar contest, she felt she needed to submit my picture too.  I am glad to say that I am alive today and a healthy, happy kitty weighing 9.5lbs. What a difference five months of great vet care, good nutrition, lots of love and a warm, dry place to live can make for a scrawny sickly cat. See how good I look now!

Me in August around 6.5 months old
So here is my story according to my mom and dad. It started in mid August 2012….actually it really started in October 2011 when my mom’s first true feline love passed away. Her cat friends told her that another kitty would find her just like her angel kitty did many years ago. But my mom kept thinking that no cat could find her when her neighbor rescued all the kitties in the area. So she went in search of a new kitty and found two kittens, my brother Maksim and sister Aleksandra (Lexie).

Look at me now –I grew into my large paws
But little did my mom know a desperate kitty needing a good home would find her…….many miles from her home on a farm in Pennsylvania. I was waiting in a cornfield for just the right person to come along that day. There were many cars that arrived with lots of people but I waited for the last car. I knew it had my new mom and dad. When the car parked and the people got out I went running from the cornfield across the lane to my new humans. When my mom first saw me she thought I was one of the barn cats because her sister lived on a farm, but then I walked over to my dad meowing for help and let him scratch my head me so she knew that I was not already living on the farm because those cats don’t like to be touched.

I followed my mom and dad around all day during the family picnic except when I fell asleep next to Gryphon the dog and I filled my belly with cat food.   My mom and dad decided to bring me home to MI while they tried to locate my original owners. My mom told my dad she would find a good home for me if no one turned up in PA but my dad knew all along that she would never give me up unless she found my first owner. My mom’s sister put up signs around the farm in PA advertising that I was found and my mom called every rescue agency and vet’s office in the area. When a mean lady at a vet’s office laughed at my mom for trying to find my old family (no one bothers reporting a lost kitten around here) my mom called my dad and told him the kitten was staying. You see I am a very smart cat….I knew which car to wait for and that my mom needed to have another cat” find her” to help heal her broken heart……we both needed each other.

So off to Exclusively Cats I went. I first saw Dr. Brooks, then Dr Bailey and then Dr. Palen. They told my mom that I was between 6 and 7 months old even though I was so tiny. I was filthy dirty and even had tar on my paws and front leg.  I had worms and ear mites and possibly FIP. I came home from the vet with meds for the worms and mites but then began a journey over the next five weeks of multiple vet visits including a couple of days in the animal hospital. I had high fevers that came, went and came again. I had no appetite and would only eat when finger fed. I had no interest in my toys or the other kitties in the house.  I had an upper respiratory infection and severe diarrhea. They thought I might have ring worm but that was negative. I developed lameness in my front legs first then my back legs.  I was on many different meds but nothing worked. Finally…… they found the right medicine and the fevers and lameness went away.

WOW, I started eating and eating and eating, finally gaining some weight. My coat grew back soft, thick, shiny and full.  I was tired of being kept in a separate room and one night I climbed up and over two stacked baby gates….they were at least 5 feet tall. When my mom got up the next morning and found me sleeping on the chair in the hearth room she took the gates down and let me be with my brother and sister………I was so very happy.

Then my mom got a call from Dr. Palen.  She knew it couldn’t be good when Dr Palen was personally making the call. My second test for Feline Leukemia came back positive. Oh no….I had to go back in a separate room and get a special test. It was a looooooong week before my mom got good news……it was a false positive and I was negative for FeLV. I was HAPPY…. HAPPY …..HAPPY (and so was my mom) to be out of that room and back playing and sleeping with my best buddies Maks and Lexie. You can see how happy we are to be together.

Kitty Pile----Maks, Lexie and Annabelle
I got my name from my mom and dad’s granddaughter who saw me the day after I found them and told them that I looked like an Annabelle but they could call me Belle if they wanted. Mostly they call me Annie-belle although relatives still call me the “Cat of the Corn” and Corn Cat.

My favorite things really are my mom and dad. I follow them around all day getting lots of hugs and attention and my mom calls me a “talker”..…whatever that means…… and says I talk more than Maks which is supposed to be a lot. Maks is my favorite kitty to play with and Lexie is my favorite kitty to snuggle with. I love to chase the laser light and the wand toy with all the shiny strands. My other favorite wand toy is the katipide. 

I do have one bad habit….I like to chew things. I chew at all the plants, I chew the string on shoes, I chew the carpet on the cat tree. I chew the lid of the laptop. I chew on fingers,  I chew the bottom of the wood cabinet. My favorite thing to chew is rubber bands. If I find one I steal it and hide it away in my favorite hiding place (under the bed) so I can chew on it whenever I feel like it. If there is anything accidentally left on the floor I chew on it. My mom says that I am going to be the cat that ends up in the ER with some foreign objects in their stomach……she is not happy about this. But I say everyone is allowed one bad habit. It is not like my brother and sister don’t have any…….well my brother does….my sister doesn’t seem to have a bad habit. Maybe I should teach her one.

I am finally starting to trust people again. I will let my mom hold me on her shoulder and give me hugs and kisses and I sit on my dad’s lap while he works on the computer. I also just decided to really like belly rubs.

I will come when called (for treats of course) and also sit for them when my mom asks me to.

You see I am a very smart cat…..some say very lucky…. for on that hot day in August on a farm over 300 miles away I knew to wait for that last car and run to my mom and dad so I had a safe and warm place to sleep, a full belly each night and so my mom’s heart no longer feels broken. 

Thanks to everyone that voted for me.
Annabelle Hruska