Case of the yellow cat

A sick cat in need of pet insurance visits a vet.

By: Dr. Jane Matheys
Associate Veterinarian
The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Thai is a handsome 7-year-old seal point Siamese cat who was presented to our clinic several months ago for lethargy and anorexia of three days duration. A physical examination showed that he was moderately dehydrated, painful in his belly and most importantly, his skin was yellow. Because his owners had purchased pet insurance early on, they were prepared for Thai’s health care costs.

This yellow color to the skin and mucous membranes is called jaundice, and in cats it usually indicates liver disease. Less commonly, it can be seen in diseases involving anemia where the body is destroying red blood cells and the waste products build up causing the yellow color. Jaundice always points to a serious illness, and as a veterinarian, I cringe when I see it because I know the cat is potentially in big trouble.

Thai was hospitalized and started on intravenous fluids. Blood samples were obtained, and a pain patch was placed on his back foot. Test results ruled out anemia, but pointed directly to problems with the liver and gall bladder. One of the main liver enzymes in the cat is called ALT and it should measure less than 100.

Thai’s value was elevated at over 1000! It was mostly likely caused by liver inflammation with possible infection. He also had bilirubin levels almost 25 times normal. Bilirubin is a break-down product of bile that is normally made in the liver and released from the gall bladder into the intestine to help with digestion. If the bile is prevented from leaving the gall bladder, too much bilirubin can remain in the blood eventually leading to jaundice as with Thai. He was started on antibiotics to help with possible infection in the liver and gallbladder which are connected.

Thai was continued on supportive care the next day. He ate a small amount of food, but still had belly pain, jaundice and mild dehydration. An abdominal ultrasound was performed on day 3, and Thai was found to have an obstructed bile duct. It was planned to transfer him to the local 24 hour emergency and referral center the next day for an expensive, but potentially life-saving, exploratory surgery and treatment of the obstructed bile duct.

Thai must have been listening to our conversations about surgery, because by the next morning he was eating and feeling better, and his ALT and bilirubin values had decreased by half. Surgery was postponed, and new medications were added to his regimen to help the liver and gall bladder heal. Thai continued to improve, his jaundice color began to fade, and he was released from the hospital on day 5. He continued on antibiotics and gall bladder medications at home , and 2 weeks later his liver and bilirubin values were almost back to normal and he was doing great.

We’ll never know for sure what caused the bile duct obstruction, but Thai’s owners were thrilled to have their talkative boy back to good health and part of their family again. They were even happier that they had made the decision to purchase pet insurance for Thai with Pets Best Insurance. It gave them great peace of mind that cost was never a major factor in making medical decisions for their beloved pet.

I remember the owners mentioning to me how pleased they were with the benefits, coverage and quick turn-around time on claims. This was before I even knew about Pets Best Insurance and before I started writing blogs for the company, so be assured that this is an unbiased, true testimony! I encourage pet owners to check out the facts to see if pet insurance can help their furry friends enjoy longer, healthier lives too.

Cats Won’t Eat Wet Food; Cat Who Bites

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys with The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. Today I’m going to be answering a couple questions from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

First we have a question from Katie. She writes, “My two cats will not, under any circumstances, eat wet cat food, regardless of brand or flavor. One will drink the water from canned tuna but neither will touch the tuna itself. We let them free-feed dry food. Is that okay? One of them is a bit overweight but the other one is fine.”

I see the most problems with cats being overweight and obese in cats that are fed strictly dry food on a free choice basis, meaning the owner just puts the bowl out and they eat as much as they want during the day. The dry food is higher in calories because of the higher carbohydrate content and we’ve made it so great tasting that many cats will just overeat and gain weigh. I prefer feeding twice daily with canned food, especially the grain-free varieties, but as you found out, a lot of cats don’t really like the canned food, especially if they’ve eaten nothing but dry food since they were little kittens.

Cats can definitely become carbohydrate addicts and they tend to like that crunchy texture of the dry food, too. One of the best websites that I know of has a really nice section that talks about how to transition your cat from the dry foods to the canned foods. That website is Check that out. It’s written by a veterinarian and it can be very helpful to get your kitties to like the canned food.

The second question is from Linda. She writes, “Five months ago I adopted a cat who had been in and out of the Humane Society. She’s bitten me a few times recently and shows jealousy around my other pet. I recently started giving her less food to control her weight. Could this be why she bites me?”

Decreasing her food probably does not really have much to do with her biting. It sounds like she has a long history of having gone through a lot of trauma in different homes and things of that sort, so probably the aggressiveness arises from something like that rather than her having less food to eat.

Cat bites can sometimes be very dangerous. People certainly do occasionally end up in the hospital from a cat bite, so her behavior is not something that we want to take too lightly. I encourage you to talk to your veterinarian about this behavior issue with her. Try and get that under control so that she doesn’t cause damage to you. Once that is under control, continue to work with her diet and her weight loss because that’s going to be very good for her in the long term, too.

Mast Cell Tumor Info and OTC Pain Meds for Dogs

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question comes from Maria. She asks, “What’s the typical prognosis for a dog with a mast cell tumor on his snout that is oozing blood?”

Unfortunately, mast cell tumors are pretty aggressive tumors, especially ones that are near the mouth. Prognosis without surgery typically isn’t great. Mast cell tumors can be surgically removed and there are some new chemotherapy drugs that have a lot of promise. Contact your veterinarian and see what options you have.

The next question comes from Susan. “Is there a good over-the-counter pain reliever to give a Doberman?”

Not really. The over-the-counter things that you can get at the pet stores typically have aspirin in them, which can be safe in small doses for some dogs, but Dobermans tend to be prone to certain bleeding disorders. I would recommend that you get a prescription pain reliever for your Doberman.

A dog with pet insurance can walk again

A Chihuahua with pet insurance can walk again.

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Veterinary Pet health insurance makes sense. With the rising cost of veterinary care many people are forced to make tough decisions when it comes to their pet’s health needs in the time of crisis.

The US spent about 48 billion on their pet’s care last year. Nothing can feel worse than not being able to provide for the furry family members you love. Unlike human medicine, most veterinary clinics do not have the resources to treat animals without being paid for their services. As with most things in life, it is impossible to plan or know if or when your pet may become ill or injured.

For Helen this was unfortunately something she found out first hand. When her older Chihuahua mix became critically ill, she found as a senior citizen on her limited budget, she was unable to afford care for her. It took a while for Helen to recover from not only losing her friend, but feeling the guilt that with better financial stability, or pet insurance, she could have had more time with her. When she was ready she opened her heart to a new Chihuahua from the shelter, a sweet jet black girl named Sassy. This time Helen made sure to sign up for pet health insurance.

Three years went by and Sassy was as healthy as ever, with no need for the use of the pet insurance plan Helen had purchased for her, until one day after leaping from the couch Sassy cried out and began limping on a hind leg. Helen made an appointment at the local veterinary clinic to determine what was wrong.

After examining Sassy, it was apparent that she would benefit greatly from surgical correction of the injured knee. Helen didn’t hesitate and scheduled her surgery for the following week. Sassy did great after surgery and Helen realized she wouldn’t have been able to provide this for Sassy had she not invested in the pet health insurance policy three years earlier. Veterinary orthopedic surgery is costly and can range from $1,000 to $2,500, depending on area of the nation, size of the pet and whether the surgeon is a Board Certified Specialist. In most cases it is required that this is paid in full at the time of the surgery.

About three months after Sassy’s surgery Helen noticed something disturbing, now Sassy was limping on the other knee. After visiting the veterinarian’s office again she learned the bad news that Sassy’s other knee was affected as well. It was unfortunate that Sassy had just recovered from her last surgery, but the recommendation was to have the other knee corrected as well.

Within the span of three months Sassy had two major orthopedic surgeries that were very costly. As a senior citizen, Helen was so grateful to have her pet health insurance policy cover the majority of her bill. Sassy would not have received the surgery she needed without it. Today Sassy is doing great on her two repaired knees and Helen will always be an advocate of cat and dog insurance, as it made a difference in her life and Sassy’s as well.

Cats Going Into Heat After Spay; Scratching Where They Shouldn’t

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. I’m answering a few questions today from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

Our first question is from Bryant. He writes. “After cats get spayed, can they still have heat symptoms?”

Yes, in rare cases that can sometimes happen. Usually what we have is that there is some ovarian tissue outside the ovary itself, somewhere in the abdomen, that’s not easily seen, that is still functioning ovarian tissue making the hormones and so the cat can come into heat, even after she’s had her spay surgery.

This is pretty rare but it can happen. Work with your veterinarian. He or she can determine if that’s truly what’s going on. If it is, unfortunately the kitty has to have surgery again so that they can go in and find that tissue, take it out, and prevent her from going into heat again.

The next question is from Katie. She’s talking about a couple kitties that she has. She says, “They are indiscriminate scratchers, ignoring their many scratching posts and climbing toys in favor of the carpet, the leather furniture, or whatever happens to be handy, such as someone’s leg. We are at our wits’ end with these two kitties.”

It’s important to remember that scratching is a very normal behavior in cats. They do it for several important reasons. First of all, they can flex and stretch their muscles and joints. It also helps to remove the old sheath that’s on the outside of the claw and it’s very important for scent marking, too.

It’s most important to know that this is normal. They are going to do it. What you need to look at is providing them with a lot of different types of scratching posts, like you have done. Also, look at what they are choosing to scratch on and then try to simulate that same surface on the scratching post, whether it’s cloth, carpet, wood, or even sisal rope. You also want to make sure that you are putting the scratching posts in the common areas, the busy areas of the house so the kitties are more likely to use them. If those scratching posts are tucked away in a corner, it’s not going to happen.

It’s also very good to put the scratching posts near the areas where they like to sleep or nap. Most kitties do want to stretch and scratch immediately after getting up, so if you put the post there they are more likely to use them. Another good idea is to rub or spray catnip onto the post to try and make them more attractive.

You definitely want to try to keep your kitties’ claws trimmed on a regular basis. That may be anywhere from every two weeks to every month. That will prevent a lot of the damage that’s being done. There are also nail caps that can be glued onto the kitties’ claws to prevent damage. If you are not making headway with these suggestions then you want to contact your veterinarian. There are a lot of other ideas that can be used. Sometimes the veterinarian may even advise you to check with a veterinarian behavior specialist.

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