Hyperthyroidism and the Importance of Lab Work

Hyperthyroidism and the Importance of Lab Work

As they age, a cat’s risk for disease increases. Regular veterinary visits help reveal and remedy concerns regarding your feline friend’s health and well-being. Hyperthyroidism is an excellent example of a highly treatable and diagnosable condition that our staff regularly encounters at Nob Hill Cat Clinic and Hospital.

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism, also known as thyrotoxicosis, is a result of an increase in production of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones and is caused by an enlarged thyroid gland. A cat’s thyroid gland is located in their neck and impacts almost every organ in their body. The root cause of feline hyperthyroidism is not known, but treatment is generally very effective.

A cat with hyperthyroidism will often appear disheveled, thin, and present with increased appetite and thirst. Owners may notice that their cat is losing weight in spite of their insatiability. Other symptoms may include: vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, hyperactivity, vocalization, and occasional weakness, depression, or trouble breathing. Please keep in mind that every cat is unique and may or may not experience specific symptoms.

The best way to ensure your feline friend remains happy and healthy is to schedule regular veterinary check-ups and lab work when recommended.

Why is My Vet Recommending Bloodwork for my Senior Cat?

Regular bloodwork and urinalysis for senior cats is a crucial aspect of preventative care, as hyperthyroidism is much more common in older cats. In fact, only 5% of cats suffering from hyperthyroidism are under 10 years of age. Bloodwork reveals whether or not your cat has elevated levels of T4 in their bloodstream, allowing your vet to catch or confirm the condition.

An early diagnosis and subsequent treatment can help stabilize your cat and prevent complications, including heart disease and high blood pressure. Complications resulting from hyperthyroidism can have a detrimental effect on your cat’s eyes, heart, brain, and kidneys. A full lab panel illuminates your cat’s overall condition, the first step for successful treatment of disease and a healthy lifestyle.

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How is Hyperthyroidism Treated?

There are three major forms of treatment for hyperthyroidism. An exam and lab work can help your veterinarian determine the best course of action for you and your pet. No treatment is ‘one size fits all,’ as factors such as your cat’s overall health and financial flexibility may come into play.

Medication

Medication is a typical, effective method of treating hyperthyroidism and is often a good choice for cats with resulting complications. Methimazole, also known as Tapazole, is relatively  inexpensive and is administered daily for the rest of a cat’s life. Tapazole works by lowering your pet’s thyroid hormone levels. If discontinued, these levels will begin to rise again.

Your veterinarian will most likely want to continue to monitor your cat’s T4 levels via regular blood work. Tapazole, like many medications, has possible side effects including: vomiting, depression, and reduction in appetite. These symptoms often resolve without discontinuing medication. Some cats may develop low blood cell counts, making consistent bloodwork especially critical in monitoring a cat’s progress.

Tapazole is an excellent option for pet parents that are able to effectively administer medication, have a cat with a comorbid condition, or are looking for a budget-friendly solution.

Radioactive Iodine Therapy

Radioactive iodine therapy is extremely effective in most cases and involves an injection of radioactive iodine which is absorbed into a cat’s bloodstream. It eliminates abnormal thyroid tissue while leaving healthy, normal tissue intact. This form of treatment is fast-acting, low-risk, and generally expensive.

Radioactive iodine therapy must be administered at a specialized facility, and, unfortunately, there are few in California. After treatment, cats are kept at the facility for several days until radiation levels reduce to an acceptable level. Most cats need no further hyperthyroid treatment post-therapy. In rare cases, a pet may develop hypothyroidism as a result of treatment.

Surgical Removal of the Thyroid Glands

Cats generally need to be otherwise healthy in order for surgical removal of the thyroid glands to be a viable option. This treatment is generally successful in treating hyperthyroidism. However, any surgery carries risk; in addition to complications as a result of anesthesia, damage to surrounding tissue may occur.

Due to the effectiveness of other therapies as well as potential risks involved in surgery, removal of the thyroid glands is not usually recommended.  

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Ultimately, your cat’s health and safety is always our clinic’s priority. Our veterinary staff will work with you to develop the most effective, feasible treatment plan for your unique feline friend.


By Kaitlin Murphy

It's Kitten Season!

As we approach spring/summer, we enter "kitten season." Around April, May and June, veterinary service locations see an influx of cats in their infancy. Sadly, the world doesn't work the way we want it to, as hundreds to thousands of kittens are turned in to animal shelters all across the United States. And, while we do check for microchips and potential owners, most have no home to return to. Each season, shelters strive to adopt out a high volume of incoming kittens. Some offer promotions that encourage adopting out bonded siblings or a mother with her baby/babies.

Newborn kittens resemble a pink potato and are about as self-sufficient; they are born blind, hairless and with their ears closed.

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Kittens should stay with momma cat for as long as possible, so that the kittens receives colostrum after birth - the extra nutritious milk that helps make little kitty immune systems strong. Kittens should stay with momma cat until they have completed their socialization and weaning periods.

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If you do find yourself with a newborn kitten, an exam is recommended as soon as possible to make certain he or she is healthy. Although it may be tempting, don't rely too heavily on google-ing!! "Dr. Google" is not a valuable resource in most situations, as not all information on the internet is accurate or from reliable sources. A veterinarian is your best resource in the pursuit of a happy, healthy kitty.

Taking on a newborn cat is comparable to caring for a human infant and involves consistent feedings of specific amounts, daily weight management and more. Your veterinarian can provide feeding instructions and techniques, as well as offer advice regarding your new foster. Newborns must be fed every hour or so and require a proper environmental temperature. Kittens also must be stimulated in order to urinate and defecate. No one ever said taking on a baby kitten would be easy!

Kittens grow at an incredible rate-changes can be seen from day to day, as opposed to week to week like their canine counterparts. The first 5 weeks are crucial for building feline physical and social abilities, skills typically taught by momma cat. Unfortunately, human improvisation is sometimes required. Eyes open at two weeks, revealing the smoky, glassy blue eyes that help make infants so endearing. At one month, kittens gain the ability to hear, teeth grow in, and they learn how to walk! At this point, kittens should be eating every 4-6 hours. Kittens are typically fully weaned by 6-8 weeks and are able to eat commercial kitten food. Seven weeks in is where things get even trickier. At this point, you'll find you have quite the curious creature on your hands. And to a kitten…everything is a toy!

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Your kitten is now dedicated to exploring the world around it. It can be difficult to maintain a controlled, kitten-safe environment when your tiny creature has the whole world to discover! They will play with and chew on anything- that's one way they learn about the world. Provide multiple different toys for your little nugget, lest they turn your hand or foot into a toy!

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At six months, a kitten should be emerging from his or her teenager testing phase, in which kittens may push your limits and see how they can best manipulate you. Any age cat can bond with a new owner, but it's six months to one year of age when the bond truly cements and grows.

Kittens only have so much blood, so flea and tick control is crucial. Kittens are tiny-squishy-squishy, and as a result typical flea treatments are too concentrated to use on younger kitties. Your veterinarian can help you find the best flea regimen for your new fuzzy family.

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Taking on a kitten is hard but heavily rewarding. You watch this little creature grow and transform before your eyes day by day. If you are up to the challenge of raising a kitten or two, contact your local animal shelter and ask to foster kittens. Help is always needed at shelters and they greatly appreciate the public lending a hand. You may even have the option of keeping your newly bonded kitten!

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For any questions regarding kitten infancy care, 
please call us at 415.776.6122 for information and resources.

PAWSitively PAWSome!

Scratching is a normal cat behavior and they can be conditioned to only scratch certain things (cat posts, cardboard scratchers, etc.) But sometimes our cats may not always listen to instruction -as we're sure non-compliance is an all too familiar trait that most kitties have- and they will redirect their attention to you or your property. But worry not for there are more humane options than declawing (which removes the first knuckle bone on their toes-causing long term pain and behavioral problems.)*

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Invented by a veterinarian, Soft Paws have been around since 1990- but not everyone knows about this wonderful humane alternative and solution for scratching. Soft Paws are small soft acrylic caps that are securely adhered to the cats nails. These function as a barrier between the cats sharp nails and your furniture, carpet, and of course your skin! (Kneading hurts with those pointy nails!)

They come in a variety of colors ranging from a simple clear design to bright neon pink and sparkles! And various sizes to make sure your kitty is as comfortable as can be.

(Large, medium, and small sizes available in various colors!)

 

 We can happily arrange a time to apply Soft Paws for you or even teach you how to do it yourself! It's an easy quick application that involves trimming the nails, then applying the caps with the pet safe adhesive. They typically remain on the nail for 3-6 weeks (the usual time frame for routine nail trims). Soft Paws on indoor cats will normally last a bit longer than indoor/outdoor kitties, due to softer material in the home versus trees, concrete, dirt, etc.

These caps do eventually fall off or get ground down, but the nail remains trimmed and dull. Once you notice the caps becoming loose or if they start to fall off then it's advised to apply new caps (maybe even get a new color!) before the cat has an opportunity to sharpen their natural nails- allowing them to scratch and cause damage to you and your property.

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(look at the widdle fluffy-wuffy squishsquish)

 

 

*Visit http://www.pawproject.org/ for more information about declawing and why we advise against doing so.

Meow... meeeooow... MEOW!!

Cats use a variety of meow types in a general, nonspecific way to attract the attention of their caretakers. It follows that additional cues such as body postures, orientation and activity level are equally important for communication. Studies suggest that cats use a variety of meows in general and again, paired with body language, they try to effectively communicate with people. Body language includes facial expressions, body, and tail positions to help express their feelings and get their message across.

Cats vocalize frequently with owners, with the "meow" noise being the most common. Purring is also a very common kitty sound, and is usually associated with pleasure or contentment- though some veterinarians report purring in sick or painful cats as well. Interestingly, the majority of pet cats use the meow almost exclusively when interacting with humans but do not typically use it when interacting with other cats.

Meows are highly variable and vary with each situation, but all signify some type of good-natured social encounter. Individual cats are known to develop an entire set of different meows for specific situations when interacting with human caretakers. They develop a myriad of meows- a meow for food, play, or cuddles- all specially made for their humans and help establish understandable communication.

Adult cats typically purr when they are in contact with a human caretaker, a familiar person, or even other cats! Another type is the trill or the "chirrup". This vocalization is commonly produced when greeting people or cats, and paired with open body language, an erect but relaxed tail in a question mark position. Now these physical and vocal cues are not true for every cat, as they all have unique personalities and quirks.

FUN FACT: The purr is one of the few vocalizations that occur with the mouth closed, and during both inhalation and exhalation, versus just exhalation like most!

A cat will generally either greet in a friendly confident manner, or not approach at all. The nose-to-nose, or the nose touch, is a way cats typically greet other familiar cats. Some cats have altered this behavior to incorporate human contact and will sniff an appendage then rub their face. Some cats roll on their back to greet their owners, a behavior normally demonstrated by female cats as an invitation to play or be petted. Felines do not engage in dominant/submissive behavior that is seen in dogs. The belly-up position is most commonly a play posture. Though we cat owners know that even though the belly floof is the softest of floofs, it typically comes with a bite or two upon contact.

 

Cats do vocalize with other cats when it comes to territory or personal space, and that's when the deep yowls come into play. Cats also hiss when they are fearful and/or defensive. The spit is considered to be a more intense form of the hiss, and is used to deter predators or avert threats. The howling, hissing, and spitting is usually paired up with a large sideways body posture, with the cat making themselves seem larger than their opponent. Most negative cat interactions are typically resolved through only vocalizations, but some fights can occur.

Elderly felines can become senile, and when that occurs, owners might hear them yowl at night or even during the day for no seemingly reason. Studies show that senility in cats cause deafness, confusion, and ataxia. It is uncertain why these cats meow so vociferously and frequently, but the meowing seems to be directed at no one and might exhibit new meows from their repertoire.

 

Dental Awareness Month!

Dental disease is extremely common in pets, with over 70% of cats having significant dental disease by the age of 3. A full dental prophylaxsis, under anesthesia, is recommended routinely to help prevent advancement of dental disease. Similar to an iceberg, only part of the tooth shows, with the roots going deep into the underlying tissues where most of the harm occurs. Dental radiographs, or x-rays, are necessary to detect any changes to the internal structure and roots of the teeth. Those offering anesthesia-free dentals do not proficiently clean the rear teeth or below the gingival line, leaving bacteria to fester and grow.

Dental disease effects more than just the teeth. It can introduce dangerous bacteria into the bloodstream, causing infection and even weakening of the heart! One of the simplest things you can do to help prevent disease between cleanings is by brushing the teeth daily. However, we realize we can only do so much with our feline friends. If they tolerate brushing enough, even 3 times a week would be considerable in the fight against dental disease.

Proper dental hygiene, along with prophylaxis procedures, can really help our kitties live longer, fuller, healthier lives!

Call today to schedule a cleaning and receive 15% off all month of November!

Black Cats are PURRfect!

Fear of black cats originated in Western history 1600-1700s. When the pilgrims came to America they brought with them a deep-seated fear of black cats, thinking they were couriers or aides to the devil/demons. To this day, the black cat is widely recognized as bad luck or as a bad omen. Some shelters refuse to adopt out black cats around Halloween, fearing that these cats will be used as props and decorations. Other shelters embrace the holiday and offer special adoption arrangements for our melanin-filled feline friends. There are over 22 breeds of cat that can have the full black coloring we love so much. Some black cats have deep yellow or gold eyes due to the amount of melanin they have!

The mythology of black cats differs for each country. In the UK and Japan, these cats are considered lucky and they will grant you good fortune. If one wanders up to you and enters into your home, it is said that you will have great prosperity.

So, if you see a black cat looking spooky, thank it for gracing you with its presence and smile because you just got really lucky!

 

It's Fall Food Frenzy here at Nob Hill Cat Clinic! Right now you will receive a free bag of Greenies dental treats with any food purchase over $20! We love bright smiles and clean teeth so we love promoting good dental habits by brushing teeth and offering dental chews! If your kitties' breath is especially stinky, you may want to consider an oral exam and a dental prophylaxsis. Call today to see how we can improve your cat's dental health!

 

 

September goodies!

September is happy, healthy pet month and here are some simple ways to keep your kitty blissful and in good health!

One of the best ways to keep your pet healthy is to have them examined by a veterinarian. Kitties 7 and younger, it is recommended that they get exams and blood work once a year, but for our senior kitties and up, every 6 months is advised. Exams include a full head-to-tail physical and sometimes vaccines or a blood profile might be recommended. Blood work can assess the organs and help catch potentially fatal issues early. Some vaccines may not be necessary for your pet so talk with your veterinarian about what’s right for you.

Fleas can be a big problem in San Francisco! Fleas are resilient and some treatments are less effective than they used to be. Flea infestation can be massively frustrating and can cause health issues for you and your kitty. There are many choices when it comes to flea prevention; there are topical treatments, oral medications and collars to choose from and your vet can help you decide.

Ask us about our special deal on Cheristin!

Teeth brushing is a great way to help keep your cat's mouth clean and stink free! Dental disease sneaks up on you; weekly, if not daily, teeth brushing can help prevent gingivitis and other dental issues. Tasty flavored toothpastes are available for cats in a variety of flavors including chicken, seafood, malt, and even beef! Using a small baby toothbrush or “finger brush” (available here as well as most pet stores) massage the teeth and gums in small circular patterns- top, bottom, front, and back! We are aware most cats don't like brushing, but just the action of rubbing stimulates blood flow to the gums and promotes healing! Try to make it a positive experience with yummy toothpaste and by offering dental treats afterwards, or maybe a favorite toy/snack! Dental prophylaxis procedures (dental cleanings) under anesthesia are necessary to clean the teeth thoroughly and should be done regularly as directed by your veterinarian.

Grooming is not just for aesthetics. Routine grooming can help prevent matted hair, urine scalding, and more. Not every cat needs a lion-cut or panty-clip; but regular baths, brushing, and nail trimming helps keep your cat looking keen and feeling great!

The inside of your kitty is just as important as the outside, and diet is a great way to help maintain proper nutrition and health. Dry versus wet, prepared versus raw- with all the food types and brands out there its easy to get overwhelmed! Talk with your vet to see what diet is recommended for your cat's individual nutritional needs and be sure to wash food and water bowls daily with hot and soapy water.

Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to animals. Supplying a variety of toys and surfaces for your cat to climb and play on will help make them happy. Rotate toys periodically to avoid boredom and to keep things fresh. Play with your cat to bond with them and give interactive toys or a puzzle ball to stimulate their minds. Catnip is always a fun treat!

 

 

 

 

                                                                           

August is National Immunization Awareness Month! 

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and we all know vaccinating your cat is one of the best ways to take care of your kitty by preventing life-threatening diseases. But what are vaccines, why do we vaccinate, and what are the risks associated with vaccination?

Vaccines help fight the disease-causing organisms. They contain antigens that trick the body's immune system into reacting mildly to the vaccine, which is a killed or modified virus. By acting like the disease and allowing to body to attack, vaccines permit the body to learn how to fight these horrible illnesses. They have now prepared the body and taught it how to fight off the disease, or severely reduce the severity.  

Vaccines are quite important as they aid in the health of your cats. It is very important to discuss with your veterinarian a vaccination protocol that's right for your cat. We factor in age of the cat, condition, and husbandry to see if vaccines are appropriate for your cat. That said, there are core vaccines that are regarded as imperative to all cats. There are also laws associated with vaccination, requiring certain vaccines and proof thereof (eg: Rabies is legally required in almost every state for all pets.)

There are few risks connected to vaccination. They do mildly stimulate the cat's immune system and this stimulation can cause lethargy or soreness at the injection site (just like when you get vaccinated!)

That said, it is important to realize that vaccines have aided in saving incalculable lives, and play a crucial role in the fight against feline infectious disease.

 

Happy, healthy pets!

September is happy, healthy pet month and here are some simple ways to keep your kitty blissful and in good health!

 

One of the best ways to keep your pet healthy is to have them examined by a veterinarian. Kitties 7 and younger, it is recommended that they get exams and blood work once a year, but for our senior kitties and up, every 6 months is advised. Exams include a full head-to-tail physical and sometimes vaccines or a blood profile might be recommended. Blood work can assess the organs and help catch potentially fatal issues early. Some vaccines may not be necessary for your pet so talk with your veterinarian about what’s right for you.

 

Fleas can be a big problem in San Francisco! Fleas are resilient and some treatments are less effective than they used to be. Flea infestation can be massively frustrating and can cause health issues for you and your kitty. There are many choices when it comes to flea prevention; there are topical treatments, oral medications and collars to choose from and your vet can help you decide.

Ask us about our special deal on Cheristin!

 

Teeth brushing is a great way to help keep your cat's mouth clean and stink free! Dental disease sneaks up on you; weekly, if not daily, teeth brushing can help prevent gingivitis and other dental issues. Tasty flavored toothpastes are available for cats in a variety of flavors including chicken, seafood, malt, and even beef! Using a small baby toothbrush or “finger brush” (available here as well as most pet stores) massage the teeth and gums in small circular patterns- top, bottom, front, and back! We are aware most cats don't like brushing, but just the action of rubbing stimulates blood flow to the gums and promotes healing! Try to make it a positive experience with yummy toothpaste and by offering dental treats afterwards, or maybe a favorite toy/snack! Dental prophylaxis procedures (dental cleanings) under anesthesia are necessary to clean the teeth thoroughly and should be done regularly as directed by your veterinarian.

 

Grooming is not just for aesthetics. Routine grooming can help prevent matted hair, urine scalding, and more. Not every cat needs a lion-cut or panty-clip; but regular baths, brushing, and nail trimming helps keep your cat looking keen and feeling great!

 

The inside of your kitty is just as important as the outside, and diet is a great way to help maintain proper nutrition and health. Dry versus wet, prepared versus raw- with all the food types and brands out there its easy to get overwhelmed! Talk with your vet to see what diet is recommended for your cat's individual nutritional needs and be sure to wash food and water bowls daily with hot and soapy water.

 

Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to animals. Supplying a variety of toys and surfaces for your cat to climb and play on will help make them happy. Rotate toys periodically to avoid boredom and to keep things fresh. Play with your cat to bond with them and give interactive toys or a puzzle ball to stimulate their minds. Catnip is always a fantastic treat!