January 2010 - Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center - San Diego, CA

Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center

4680 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117



January, 2010

We are excited to welcome the new year as 2010 promises to be amazing here at Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center. 

Among the many changes this year... Cheshire Cat is "Going Green!" Our hospital has already been recycling cans and paper as an ongoing effort to diminish waste and environmental impact; now our medical records will be electronic. Computerized medical records not only mean less paper and no paper chart but it will help us to serve you and your pet more efficiently! No more searching for records; everything is at our fingertips. We hope you will enjoy this change as much as we will!

Another exciting change this year is to Dr. Middleton's work schedule. She will be in the hospital more week days and be more accessible to serve you and your cat's needs. We look forward to seeing her face more often.

This Newsletter will focus on the best way to ring in the new year; with a visit to the vet! Health checks help keep small, undetectable issues from becoming major health risks. Read more below....\

What's In The Exam?

At Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center, your cat's health is our top priority and prevention often begins with vaccines. Even indoor cats should be vaccinated against upper respiratory diseases that do not require direct contact with other cats to be spread. Our vaccine protocols are based on the recommendations of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Please read more here.  

Most cat owners are well versed in the need for vaccines and are diligent about having the kitten vaccine series, but often owners are not aware that annual and biannual exams by the veterinarian are vital to the management of health and prevention of disease. Cats age more quickly than humans do. Below is a brief comparison of your cat's age in relation to human years.


 Cat Years      Human Years

                         1                     15  

                        5                     36

                        10                  56

                        15                  76

                        20                  96

A physical examination by the veterinarian includes a review of care and of the body systems. The following is evaluated:

Vaccinations - A custom tailored plan is based upon the risk potential for each cat (i.e., indoor or outdoor cat)  

Oral Health - Tartar, gingivitis, mouth odors, pain, or other signs of disease you may have observed

Nutrition - including what your cat eats, how often, what supplements and treats are given, changes in water consumption, weight or appetite

Exercise and Weight- how much exercise your cat receives including how often and what kind; and any changes in your cat's ability to exercise or sudden change in weight

Ears and Eyes - any discharge, redness, clouding of the eye, change in pupil size

Abdomen - any vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or abnormal stools

Chest - heart sounds, speed and rhythm, breathing abnormalities coughing, wheezing, sneezing, or nasal discharge

Behavior - any behavior problems such as inappropriate elimination, aggression, or changes in temperament

Legs and Movement - any limping, weakness, toenail problems

Coat and Skin - Check for hair loss, pigment changes, lumps, itchy spots, shedding, mats, or parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites.

Uro-genital - any discharges, heats, changes in mammary glands, urination difficulties or changes

In addition to a physical exam, the doctor may recommend laboratory tests or other diagnostics to getting a better picture of your cat's health. Even younger or seemingly healthy cats will benefit from these tests due to the fact that outward symptoms of disease usually do not present until the disease is more advanced. Again, remember that prevention is the key.

Lab Tests:

Chemistry panel: Generally, a chemistry panel will evaluate various chemicals, enzymes, proteins, hormones, waste products, and electrolytes in blood. These chemistries are a valuable tool evaluating the organ functions and identifying disease. Some things that are screened for include diabetes mellitusliver disease, kidney disease, and thyroid function.

Blood count (CBC): This test evaluates the cellular portion of the blood. The number and appearance of both red and white cells can help the veterinarian rule out dehydration, anemia, infection, leukemia and more.

Urinalysis: A urinalysis is really a series of tests which provide a wealth of information. Commonly used to screen for urinary infections, crystals and stones, the urinalysis is also an invaluable tool to evaluate kidney function and screen for diabetes.

Fecal Exam: A fecal examination screens for internal parasites and protozoan as well as blood which can indicate gastrointestinal health. It should be part of every cat's annual checkup.

FIV and FeLV Viruses: Outdoor cats are at risk of exposure to  feline immunodeficiency virus or feline leukemia virus and should be tested periodically. An infected cat will have special health care needs and vaccination schedules, and may suffer from concurrent disease as a result.

Radiographs: As a cat grows older, it is often helpful to have a radiograph (x-ray) of the chest and abdomen to screen for early disease.  In fact, 'normal' radiographs are valuable in providing a baseline by which to evaluate the radiographs taken after a disease process has started. If your cat is showing signs or has a history of heart, lung, kidney, liver, or gastrointestinal disease, radiographs can help the veterinarian "see" inside to evaluate organ size, shape and lung clarity.

Ultrasound Imaging: The ultrasound machine uses sound waves to produce a picture (sonogram) of the internal structures of your cat. With this tool, the veterinarian can see inside organs and see the inner workings in live, moving images. This is especially helpful when looking at the heart, kidneys, urinary bladder and other organs and when collecting special lab samples from within the body cavities. Often a radiographic specialist is employed to perform more involved diagnostics.

Blood Pressure Measurement: Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a serious condition that can lead to or worsen kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. Using a non-invasive Doppler device, the Cheshire Cat Team can take multiple readings in a short period of time. This helps reduce the stress for your cat.

**Read more about Lab Tests on our web page. Click Here

The Older Cat:

Beginning at around age 7, your cat enters his or her senior years. Often, cats begin to develop diseases paralleling their senior human counterparts, such as diabetes, heart, kidney and thyroid disease and cancer. Because of this fact, Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center highly recommends bringing your cat for examinations twice a year. Additionally, if your cat is has been diagnosed with any chronic health conditions or is on long-term medication, he or she should visit the vet at least twice each year. In some cases, your cat will require frequent lab screening to monitor the effectiveness of medications and organ functions. Our team will help determine your cat's visit schedule based on individual needs.



What is Diabetes mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a disease caused by failure of the pancreas to produce adequate amounts of insulin.

Insulin regulates the amount of glucose (blood sugar) that enters cells in the body.  Glucose is circulating in the bloodstream and is used for energy.  When insulin is not available, the cells are deprived of energy.  Even though there is glucose present in the bloodstream, the glucose cannot enter the cells. 

When there are high enough amounts of glucose in the bloodstream, it begins to spill over into the urine.  Glucose pulls water into the urinary tract and causes increased urination (polyuria).  As a result, the cat drinks more (polydipsia) to make up for this fluid loss. 

What are clinical signs of Diabetes mellitus?   

Increased urinating (polyuria) - glucose pulls water into the urinary tract  

Increased drinking (polydipsia) - as a result of water depletion

Increased appetite - due to decreased intracellular glucose

Weight loss - due to decreased intracellular glucose

How is Diabetes mellitus diagnosed?

Diabetes mellitus is diagnosed when clinical signs are present along with laboratory findings of DM.  These laboratory findings are:

High levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia)

Glucose present in the urine (glucosuria)

How is Diabetes mellitus treated?

Insulin is given so that the glucose can enter the cells and supply energy.  This will decrease the levels of glucose in the bloodstream and glucose will no longer spill over into the urine.  There are different types of insulin, which have different lengths of action in the body.  Not every cat is alike.  What type and amount of insulin that is best for one cat may not be best for another.

Foods such as Purina DM may also be used to help regulate the glucose your cat gets from a meal.  This is a prescription diet and must be purchased through the veterinarian.

How do I administer insulin?

Insulin is administered with a tiny insulin syringe and is injected under the skin.  It is extremely important to follow the proper storage and preparation directions when administering insulin.  If insulin is not administered properly in the right dose and with the right syringe, the cat will not be dosed correctly.  These are some great resources with step by step instructions for insulin administration:



*If you are unable to view these websites, please schedule a tutorial with a veterinarian or veterinary technician.   

Three things to always remember when administering insulin: 

Always use the correct insulin syringes (U-100 and U-40 syringes do not measure the same amounts)

Stay consistent with feeding times and insulin administration times.

Do not change insulin dosages without veterinary supervision. 

The attached sheet will aid in consistency with feeding times, insulin administration times and glucose checks.  This will also aid the veterinarian in regulating you cat.  Always record feeding and insulin dosage administration, especially if more that one person is caring for your cat!  

What is a glucose curve?  

A blood glucose curve monitors blood glucose throughout the day.  Glucose is constantly changing.  It increases after meals and decreases following insulin administration.  The curve will allow the veterinarian to get an idea of the fluctuations throughout the day and whether the insulin needs to be increased or decreased.  

Glucose curves can either be performed at the veterinary clinic or at home.  It is ideal to have this performed at home as stress can cause a transient increase in blood glucose.  A glucometer specifically calibrated for use in animals can be purchased at The Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center.

How do I test my cat's blood glucose?   

The following website has a video on how to take a blood glucose:  


If you are not able to view this video, please schedule a tutorial with a veterinarian or veterinary technician. 

What are signs should I watch for to know that my cat is not regulated properly?   

Please call the Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center if your cat:  

Is not eating or is vomiting

Has begun drinking or eating more that usual

Is urinating more frequently

Is losing weight

Is showing signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar):  restlessness, weakness, lethargy, head tilting, shivering, staggering, uncoordinated movements, problems with eyesight, disorientation, convulsions, seizures or coma

What is hypoglycemia?   

Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) occurs when there is not enough circulating blood sugar to feed the cells in the body.  This can be deadly as this is necessary for brain and other vital organ function.  Please see #5 above for signs of hypoglycemia.  

**If there is a concern that your animal may be hypoglycemic, first call the Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center or Emergency Clinic immediately.  You may test the blood sugar and try feeding your cat.  Karo corn syrup can be rubbed on the cat's gums if he/she will not eat.  The cat should be taken to a veterinarian immediately for IV dextrose (glucose) and to become better regulated.   


Brooks, Wendy C.  Glipizide.  

www.vin.com.  2004.

Peterson, Mark E. and Peter P. Kintzer.  Progress in Choosing the Right Insulin in Dogs and Cats.  ACVIM 2007

Lappin, Michael R.  Feline Internal Medicine Secrets.  Philadelphia:  Hanley and Belfus, 2001.

New Years Resolutions:

It's the beginning of a new year and the top resolution made by people everywhere is to "get in shape." Weight loss and exercise benefits everyone including your kitty! 

Obesity is a common problem in our domestic cats, especially the indoors only ones. This is caused by excessive intake of food and or/ not enough exercise. The most common cause is the "free-choice" feeders and those that eat out of shear boredom. Obesity can complicate certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone/joint condition and breathing problems. It can make your cat a higher risk for anesthesia procedures. Here are some suggestions to help your feline friend get back in tip top condition.   

Fun Cat Facts:  

Cats have a special scent organ located in the roof of their mouth, called the Jacobson's organ. It analyzes smells - and is the reason why you will sometimes see your cat "sneer" (called the flehmen response or flehming) when they encounter a strong odor.

A cat has a total of 24 whiskers, 4 rows of whiskers on each side. The upper two rows can move independently of the bottom two rows. A cat uses its whiskers for measuring distances.  The whiskers of a cat are capable of registering very small changes in air pressure.

Cats have 30 teeth (12 incisors, 10 premolars, 4 canines, and 4 molars), while dogs have 42. Kittens have baby teeth, which are replaced by permanent teeth around the age of 7 months.

A cat's jaw has only up and down motion; it does not have any lateral, side to side motion, like dogs and humans.  For this reason, don't rely on feeding dry food as a dental care program - cats need to have their teeth cleaned by a vet.

A cat's tongue has tiny barbs on it.

Cats lap liquid from the underside of their tongue, not from the top.

Cats purr at the same frequency as an idling diesel engine, about 26 cycles per second.

Domestic cats purr both when inhaling and when exhaling.

The cat's front paw has 5 toes, but the back paws have 4. Some cats are born with as many as 7 front toes and extra back toes (polydactl).