For such a common problem, there’s a lot we don’t know about hairballs in cats. It’s yet another example of our tendency to overlook the everyday and focus on the rare. This is to the cost of cats everywhere.
When there’s a lack of hard evidence, we only have experience to go by. So I’ll use mine to help you answer the key questions put to me by cat owners. Continue reading “Help! My Cat Has A Hairball”
I want to share with you a very sobering paper that should make us think harder anytime we feel a lump in a cat’s belly.
Five cats were presented to a veterinary teaching hospital with abdominal masses that could be felt during a routine exam. They all had the classic signs of intestinal obstruction: vomiting, listlessness and not eating.
The two eldest cats died. One, because her owner thought it was cancer and had her put down. The other, due to a delay in treatment, most likely due to a similarly fatalistic attitude.
The diagnosis in these five cases was a hairball. A thoroughly treatable problem. Continue reading “A Lump In Your Cat’s Belly Is Not Always Cancer”
When a cat injures their tail, it’s usually more serious than it looks. If you don’t make the right decisions there can be long term consequences more than just pain.
Here are the three common ways cats hurt their tails, and what to do about them. Please don’t read on if you’re squeamish. Continue reading “The Three Common Injuries To Cat Tails”
Two weeks ago I discussed when you should and when you shouldn’t clean a dog’s ears. Now let’s talk about how to do it and what to use.
Most of the techniques and products mentioned can also be used in cats. Continue reading “The Best Way To Clean Dogs Ears & How Often”
Like most kitties these days, my cat is supposed to be indoors. I say supposed, because despite my best efforts, he does not always agree.
Fast asleep he may appear, but as soon as a door or window opens, up comes his periscope head. If you aren’t quick enough, or the lock doesn’t click, he’s gone. Next thing, the whole family is out with torches (not the flaming kind but it feels that way) until he’s found and returned.
We do this because outdoor cats run a high risk of road trauma, fight abscesses and FIV infection. But sometimes he’s impossible to find. So I’ve always been interested in smart tech to help me, and recently I invested in an AirTag.
However, it may not be the best option. Continue reading “A Review Of Apple’s AirTag To Find My Cat!”
Possibly the most frustrating disease of cats is stomatitis. It can cause terrible suffering, and for a third of affected cats, nothing seems to work well. For the other two thirds, the only good option is an extreme one.
New treatments have made the control of stomatitis within the reach of more cats, and we may be on the cusp of even greater things. Continue reading “Gingivitis & Stomatitis In Cats”
Convenia® is the most widely used antibiotic in Australian cats. Yet despite it having major problems no owner has ever questioned my decision to use it. Hopefully after this you will.
After all, part of the reason vets use it so much is because we think you want us to. Continue reading “Why The Most ‘Convenia-nt’ Antibiotic May Be The Wrong One For Cats”
OK, jokey title aside, this is serious.
Are you struggling under the weight of too many choices? Everyone telling you how you must use a certain food, or a special remedy? You’re in good company.
Linus Pauling was one of the greatest scientists of all time, but even that didn’t save him. Despite groundbreaking discoveries and a Nobel Prize, he is perhaps most famous for the wrong reason. Continue reading “Vet Sees People Manipulated By Clickbait, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!”
For nearly my whole career, I have used and recommended Feliway® for situations involving feline anxiety and stress. These might be urine spraying, inter-cat aggression, or even trips to the vet and cattery.
I have always been reassured that there is strong scientific evidence for its effectiveness. So it took until 2021 for me to do a thorough literature review of my own. I was shocked by what I found.
It’s not that Feliway doesn’t work at all. It’s just that it probably doesn’t work for most of the things it’s been promoted for. Continue reading “A Critical Review Of Feliway For Cats”
Driven by high levels of public approval, Australia is haphazardly but relentlessly moving towards greater containment of cats. I support cat curfews, and keep my own cat inside, but I still have concerns.
The big problem with cat laws in Australia is that they seem to be enacted by those who know the least about cats. It’s leading to unrealistic expectations and poor results.
I’ll discuss why that is in a minute, but to not sound negative I’ll start with the benefits of curfews. Continue reading “Cat Curfews & Confinement In Australia”
Adelaide, and Australia in general are slowly moving towards cat curfew and registration. In this article you can look up the current laws in your local Adelaide council area.
This article will be updated regularly so please let me know if you hear of any changes before I do. Absolute accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Continue reading “Cat Curfew & Registration By South Australian Council”
If your pet is having surgery, then you already know the importance of fasting them beforehand. What you may not know is why and for how long.
Here is a quick summary, with details to follow.
How Long To Withhold Food Before Surgery
Continue reading “Fasting Dogs, Cats & Rabbits Before Surgery”
- Dog: 12-18 hours
- Cat: 12-18 hours
- Rabbit: NO fasting
- Guinea pig: NO fasting
- Ferret: 4 hours
- Rat: 1 hour
Oesophageal stricture is a rare but important problem for both dogs and cats. It happens when a narrowing forms in the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This creates a partial blockage for food and water. Continue reading “Oesophageal Stricture In Dogs & Cats”
In 2021 there are two drugs your vet may use to anaesthetise dogs and cats: alfaxalone and propofol. You can discover more about each one at the links, but here I will compare them for safety and efficacy. Continue reading “A Comparison Of Alfaxalone & Propofol For Pet Anaesthesia”
The nightmare is almost over. Until very recently, a diagnosis of Feline Infectious Peritonitis was a death sentence. Either a slow, lingering decline or a decision to euthanase and spare the suffering. This happened to around 1% of cats, most of them kittens.
Then it was discovered that certain antiviral drugs could not only improve the symptoms, they could actually bring about a cure. But there was still a hitch. Continue reading “Treatment with Remdesivir for FIP in Cats”
Senior diet and foods for older cats are so well-established that nearly everyone uses them. But do they help?
Here are some of the claims:
- Reduced strain on the kidneys
- Maintenance of optimum body weight and muscle mass
- Additional nutrients important for ageing
Are they correct? Could these diets be harmful instead? Let’s look at the evidence. Continue reading “What Is The Best Food For Senior Cats?”
There is a very good reason why so many kittens come with sneezes, runny eyes or coughs. This is true whether a young kitten with continuous symptoms, or an older cat where the problem seems to get better and then come back.
Once you know it, a lot of other common cat illnesses start to make sense.
To understand the special nature of cat diseases, you need to look at how they began. So stick with me! What I’m about to discuss could be the most important health issue of cats. Continue reading “The Cause Of Sneezing & Watery Eyes In Kittens”
In 2020, the American Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) published its data on poisonings in cats. It’s the best information we have on household dangers to our feline friends.
From a cat-owner’s perspective, it contain two important lists: the top 5 reported poisonings and the top 20 fatalities. As you’ll see, these are quite different. Continue reading “The Most Common & Serious Poisons Of Cats”
It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so serious. Look for answers on why your cat bites or scratches you and you find people telling you it’s all about a competition for dominance.
As any genuine cat lover knows, our cats always dominate us. Most of us have enough humility to love them for it.
Stopping them biting and scratching is a whole other story with a wholly different explanation. One where aggression is just a symptom of a problem in the cat-human relationship. Continue reading “Help! My Cat Attacks Me Without Warning”
Look at these numbers. It shows the percentage of vaccinated cats at our Adelaide clinic that also receive the FIV vaccine. Continue reading “Trends In Australians Keeping Cats Indoors”
Here I want to show you, using the latest best practice guidelines, when a tooth should be extracted (never pulled), and what your choices are.
Sometimes when a tooth needs removal, there is plenty of time to explain why. However, most of the time, you get a hurried phone call while your dog or cat is asleep. There really is nothing you can do but trust your vet. Continue reading “When Should A Dog Or Cat’s Tooth Be Extracted?”
The tooth pictured here is fractured. Ignore the black gums, which are normal in dogs, and focus on the dental probe which is in the exposed (and dead) pulp cavity. This tooth is infected and needs removal.
It’s stressful knowing a dog or cat might lose teeth. The main worry is “how will they eat?” When it happens it is never as bad as feared. Continue reading “Tooth Extractions In Dogs & Cats: Recovery & Cost”
More and more Australians are building an outdoor enclosure, or catio for their cat. Some make it themselves, others pay specialist companies to do it. Either way, there are two things that often get overlooked.
The first, assuming you plan on using them, is choosing plants that are safe for cats. I cover that later with an Australian perspective. The second is designing the space from a cat point of view. Continue reading “Designing A Cat Friendly Australian Garden”
If you have a Scottish Fold and this is the first time you are hearing of their problems, you are not to blame. Finding good information before you get a cat is not easy, as you have probably learned by now. Continue reading “What Cat Lovers Should Know About Scottish Folds”
Any disease that can jump from pets to people is famous, and toxoplasmosis is no exception. But that does not mean everyone understands how it works.
Like how many cats get it and how they pass it on. Or how to stay safe, especially if you are pregnant. And the disease itself in cats and dogs. We cover all these here. Continue reading “Toxoplasmosis In Cats, Dogs & Humans”
Listen to this rubbish.
If your cat only eats dry food, she is likely to be getting less nutrition than a cat eating wet food. Many low-quality dry foods contain a lot of fillers.
Throwaway lines like these are typical of the overly simplistic advice you find online about feline nutrition. The truth takes a deeper look. To know whether wet, dry or both are best for your cat, we need to talk about:
- nutritional adequacy & completeness
- fillers in wet & dry cat food
- the risk of obesity
- diseases associated with wet & dry foods
- other alternative cat diets
Let’s dive in! Continue reading “Is It OK To Give A Cat Only Dry Food?”
Australian vets have seen a steady rise in pets being insured. However, up to now, that has not been matched by any increase in choice. Now we have a third entrant.
But you say, what about all these other pet insurance companies? Continue reading “A Review Of Knose Dog & Cat Insurance”
We all know that cats like to sharpen their claws, but it amazes me how little we actually know about it. Yet scratching in cats is extremely important.
- a genuine need of cats
- a significant source of concern for cat owners
- a leading cause of surrender to shelters
- the excuse used for surgical declawing of cats
What you see here is typical of veterinary science. Pick a rare disease like arterial thromboembolism and you’ll find lots of good science. Pick a common, everyday, practical problem and it just doesn’t get the same attention.
Finally, I have something to tell you. For the first time, two recent studies have looked at scratcher preferences in kittens and adult cats. They offered cats choices and measured which ones they chose to use more often. Continue reading “Which Cat Scratcher Do Cats Use Most?”
I was a young vet only a few months out of university when I saw my first aortic or arterial thromboembolism (ATE). This is a horrible disease of cats caused by a saddle thrombus: a blood clot released from the heart that is ejected down the aorta and blocks it near the hind legs. Continue reading “Saddle Thrombus in Cats: Evidence vs Experience”
Essential facts (details below):
Causes Of A Swollen Belly In Cats
There are five likely causes for an enlarged abdomen in a young cat:
Continue reading “Help! My Cat Has A Bloated Stomach”
- Intestinal worms, especially in untreated kittens up to three months of age
- Pregnancy, in undesexed, free-roaming female cats
- Abdominal fat deposition, which is usually easy to identify
- Excessively large meals (swelling should come and go)
- Feline infectious peritonitis or FIP
There is a good reason why I had written 500 pet health articles before broaching the subject of diarrhoea in cats. It can be extremely frustrating. There is also a lack of good quality information for cat owners.
First a description, then a logical treatment plan. Continue reading “Help! My Cat Has Diarrhoea”
Find the facts below about dogs and cats and coronavirus COVID-19. Keep checking this page for updates on the situation.
Vets across Australia are open as normal. Walkerville Vet requests that clients:
- Maintain 1.5m from staff and other clients (nurses will hold your pet for examinations)
- Do not pay with cash
- Not attend the clinic if in isolation or even mildly unwell
- Wait on the front lawn if there are 6 or more people in the waiting room
- Come to the clinic alone whenever possible, and without children
Now dive deeper… Continue reading “Your Dog or Cat & Coronavirus COVID-19”
The use of Atopica® for dermatitis is a tale of two very different species: dogs and cats. What was once a very useful drug in dogs has turned into an essential part of treating skin diseases in cats.
Now I use it far more in cats than dogs. Keep reading on to see why. Continue reading “Using Cyclosporine In Dogs & Cats”
“Unfortunately, there are people out there who don’t like cats — hate cats — and too often we see what happens to cats when they are trapped by these sorts of people.” RSPCA South Australia chief executive Paul Stevenson
“A law like this would give the worst elements of society Carte Blanche to abuse their neighbours’ pets” Brian May (guitarist in Queen)
Why are these two so worried?
New cat curfew laws proposed by Marion Council will allow the trapping of any cat found off the property from 9pm to 7am. Not just by council staff either. By anyone at all. Continue reading “Do We Really Want To Live In A Society That Traps Cats?”
Has your vet asked you to collect a urine sample from your pet? Don’t despair! I’ve been guiding people through it for 25 years and no-one has failed yet.
Before we start, it might help to know why a pee sample can be important. Continue reading “How To Get Urine From Dogs & Cats”
News Flash: Since writing this, there have been increasing reports of feline parvovirus outbreaks in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
A few years ago I started getting questions about a new cat viral outbreak called cat plague. Cat plague? I may have been seeing cats for 25 years, but this was news to me too.
A quick google and it all became clear: this is a new name for an old disease. It goes by all these names: Continue reading “It’s True, Cats Get Parvo Too”
I have no idea how most cat owners end up choosing a cat litter. If my experiences are anything to go by, it’s trial and error. I doubt they try more than a few before settling on a favourite.
This is a vet review of the common and popular types of cat litter in stores. I’ll help you understand:
Continue reading “What Is The Best Cat Litter?”
- the choices of cat litter
- the problems with each type
- and the evidence for which ones cats prefer
There’s just one common cause of a lump on a cat’s face. Have a look at the picture above. I hope you can see that the left cheek isn’t chubby, it’s swollen. This is an abscess and it needs veterinary attention. Continue reading “Facial Swelling In Cats”
Warning: this post contains descriptions of animal cruelty.
Images of racehorses being slaughtered at abattoirs have put the racing industry in the spotlight. And rightly so. But there’s also a connection that’s much closer to home. Continue reading “Does Pet Food Contain Horse Meat?”
According to a recent survey of English cats, the average lifespan was 14 years old. Purebred cats were recorded as living to a lower average of 12.5 years.
These of course are only averages and include all causes of death from birth to old age. We regularly see cats with good care who do much better.
To help your cat live longer, it’s useful to look at the causes of death recorded. Continue reading “How Long Do Cats Live?”
Here are the most common reasons why a cat might sneeze. As nearly every one is associated with a runny nose, there’s also a description of the nasal discharge that goes with it.
For each, there’s a suggestion of the best treatment. Continue reading “Causes Of Sneezing In Cats”
It’s easy to forget how refreshing Grumpy Cat was when she first appeared. If something wasn’t as good as the hype, then there she was with perfect one liner to burst the bubble. Coming from a cat like her, who could argue?
Grumpy Cat will always be the queen of memes, and perhaps the most famous cat of our time. Until now, I’ve refrained from talking about her death. But hopefully enough time has passed, because there’s a story in it about the future of cats. Continue reading “The Death Of Grumpy Cat”
Isn’t it always the way. You’ve been recommending something for 25 years with complete confidence. Then along comes a piece of very inconvenient evidence.
This time it’s about cats preferring moving water. It turns out that despite a whole industry devoted to promoting cat fountains, until now no one has bothered to see if they actually work. Continue reading “Do Cats Need A Water Fountain?”
If you have a cat diagnosed with hyperthyroidism you’re not alone. Studies indicate that around 2% of cats are affected, and up to 10% of geriatric cats.
There are many treatment options available for thyroid problems in cats. However, the one that generates the greatest discussion is radioactive iodine. We don’t offer it, but we can refer you to an appropriate centre.
First, here’s what you need to know. Continue reading “Radioactive Iodine for Feline Hyperthyroidism”
Feline infectious peritonitis or FIP is probably the number one fatal viral disease of young cats around the world. Up to now FIP has had no effective treatments and no vaccine.
Now there is real hope of a successful treatment. I’ll explain it below after dismissing a few false hopes. Continue reading “New Treatments For FIP In Cats”
When I was young, like all kids, I wanted to know why everything happened. Having vets as parents, I can distinctly remember asking why male cats needed to be desexed.
“It’s because otherwise they fight so much that they get run down and die early.”
With the benefit of hindsight, this is pure folk wisdom. People could see that fighting was associated with sickness, but not yet why. Then, in 1986, hot on the heels of the discovery of the human AIDS virus, researchers in the USA put two and two together and found a feline AIDS virus in cats like these. We call it FIV. Continue reading “Feline Immunodeficiency Virus & Your Cat”
Lymphoma is the most common tumour of cats. It also can be one of the more treatable cancers depending on the type involved.
Lymphoma is caused by the abnormal multiplication and growth of lymphocytes. These are a white blood cell found throughout the body, including the bloodstream, gut and lymph nodes. Continue reading “Lymphoma In Cats”
It’s 6:30am. There’d still be another 30 minutes before your alarm if another sort of alarm wasn’t already going off. Incessantly.
It’s hard to ignore a cat when they want something. It’s what makes them a great first-time pet. However, being woken up too early is no laughing matter. So welcome to my new support group: Friends & Family Of Pushy Cats. Continue reading “How To Stop Cats Waking You Up Early”
A cat with dandruff may sound funny, but it’s not. So please no Head and Shoulders jokes. In a minute you’re going to see that none of the causes are trivial. Continue reading “Help! My Cat Has Dandruff”
The picture below is Grouch. I guess he’s called that because of what he was, not what he is. Because what he is now is a house cat. Continue reading “Caring For Feral & Stray Cats”