Cats with chronic kidney disease are prone to developing a secondary condition called nonregenerative anemia, a potentially fatal complication that keeps down the production of red blood cells needed to carry oxygen from the lungs to all the body’s tissues. It occurs because the compromised kidneys produce less of a hormone called erythropoietin, which helps the bone marrow produce red blood cells. But a new drug, Varenzin-CA1, treats the problem by increasing erythropoietin production.
Like people, cats sometimes need blood, not just because of blood loss that may occur during an operation or a car accident but also as a result of such conditions as kidney failure or leukemia. Might your cat make a good blood donor?
Q: My veterinarian is suggesting my cat have a urinalysis. He has suggested it in the past, but I have opted not to go ahead with it. Now that my cat is 10 he’s saying it really would be a good idea. What do you think? One reason I am concerned is that I don’t know how I would “catch” the urine.
You’ve noticed your cat has started losing hair, perhaps in one spot, perhaps in a number of areas on her body. It’s alarming because a cat’s fur is so much a part of her appearance. Fortunately, the reason for a cat’s hair loss, known medically as alopecia, can almost always be found. Once it is, effective solutions are available. Here are five reasons that a cat would lose hair — and how to address the problem.
It’s often said that if a cat is in a prolonged state of lethargy, he should be taken to the vet to see if there’s an underlying cause. Lethargy can be a sign of everything from an infection to arthritis to diabetes. But what is lethargy?
There are an estimated 600 million cats in the world, and almost 500 million of them are free-roaming. Up to 100 million homeless cats live in the U.S. alone. They often survive in suboptimal conditions while they prey on vulnerable wildlife. And they frequently enough get euthanized at overcrowded shelters even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. The answer is sterilization to prevent more unwanted cats from coming into the world, and dedicated cat lovers work hard in trap-neuter-release programs where they capture cats, take them to a willing veterinary facility to have them spayed or neutered, and then return them to their feral lives.
A cat allergy, whether to something in the environment, something in the diet, or insects such as fleas, often plays out on the skin. A cat that has an allergic reaction can become chronically itchy to the point that all the licking, chewing, scratching, and biting at the uncomfortable spot(s) can cause her hair to come out. It can also cause something known as miliary dermatitis, a skin condition characterized by crusty lesions. (Miliary dermatitis is also known as scabby cat disease.) Often, an allergy causes the skin to become inflamed, too, among other reactions.
As of this year, a veterinary specialty in shelter medicine is fully recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. A veterinarian who is board-certified in shelter medicine must complete a residency that typically lasts 3 years (or work directly in shelter medicine for a minimum of 6 years). She or he must also submit a credentials packet that includes multiple case reports and research papers and then sit for a qualifying exam.
One or both of your cat’s eyes has become bluish-gray in color and looks opaque. Is she suffering vision loss because of a cataract? Probably not.
Ironically, probably the most common disease to affect cats is the one not necessarily covered by pet health insurance. We’re talking about dental disease. By the age of 3, 85 percent of cats show at least some dental deterioration in the form of periodontal (gum) disease. If left untreated, it can lead to infections and, eventually, tooth loss. Fractured teeth comprise another common dental issue. But health insurance for cats varies widely in terms of reimbursing for treatment, which for a procedure like multiple teeth extractions can easily cost thousands of dollars.
The veterinarian palpates (feels) your cat’s abdomen during a clinical exam and finds that one or both of her kidneys are bigger than they’re supposed to be. It happens more frequently than you might expect. The medical term for enlarged kidneys is renomegaly, “reno” meaning “kidneys” and “mega” meaning “large.” But the finding is not a diagnosis in itself. It’s a clue that a diagnosis is necessary, and it’s sometimes accompanied by other clues, such as decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting.