Urine crystals in cats: What causes them and how do you get rid of them?

A little while ago, we noticed that someone was peeing on some of our furniture. Given that we’ve got two cats on fluoxetine long-term due to stress marking, I was worried that their medicine wasn’t working anymore. But then I noticed something odd when I treated the pee spots with Urine Away. They became sparkly, which I’d never seen before. The spots weren’t saturated enough to cause that, and I realized we might have a cat with urine crystals. Urine crystals in cats require veterinary diagnosis and treatment.

The first thing we had to do was take all four of our cats to the vet for testing because we didn’t know who it was. It’s always a good idea to take your cats in when new and worrisome behaviors appear. Urine crystals can be irritating to your cat’s bladder and urethra, making them feel like they need to go all the time. They can also lead to stones, which can cause life-threatening blockages, and cause UTIs. This is why it’s so important to take your cat to the vet if your cat is peeing outside the litter box.

What causes urine crystals in cats?

It depends on the type of crystal, but some causes are:

  • Urine pH is too high or too low
  • Dehydration
  • Dietary issues (which can affect urine pH levels)

How are urine crystals in cats treated?

This, too, depends on what caused the crystals. Sometimes, simply ensuring that your cat is getting adequate water is enough. Other times, your cat may need a change in diet, or even medicine, or some combination of all of this.

It’s important to note that urine crystals in cats may show an underlying problem. Your vet will work to determine whether that’s the case, and if so, recommend an appropriate treatment for it in order to stop the crystals.

So which cat of ours had the crystals?

It turns out that it was Chase with the crystals. All three of our other cats’ urine was normal, with the exception of Kali, who had a high pH. Chase did too, so it’s very likely his crystals were struvite crystals because those tend to form in urine that’s too alkaline (calcium oxalate crystals are more likely to form in urine that’s too acidic, according to our vet).

Our vet recommended we put some cranberry extract with vitamin C into his food to help acidify his urine and ward off infection. We did, and a month later, the crystals were gone. So we thought that was the end of it, and continued putting the cranberry in his food. For him, it seemed it was an open-and-shut case. Stay tuned…

**Please remember to call your vet if you notice any unusual or alarming behaviors!

UTIs In Cats: What To Look For And What You Should Do

Late last week, we had a massive scare. Thursday morning while my husband was feeding our cats,  everything seemed just fine, like a normal morning, right up until it wasn’t. Chase randomly peed on a bedroom door and was suddenly in severe distress. He’s an example of how sudden, and how serious, UTIs in cats can be.

It would seem that noticeable symptoms of UTIs in cats can appear suddenly

After he peed on the door, he tried to slink away under the bed, but my husband gently pulled him back out. Then he just lay on his side on the floor, acting like he was straining to pass something. Our first thought was a blockage so we rushed him to the vet. On the way there, he vomited, and then he lay back down and went back to straining.

This is what he looked like. I’m including this video because I feel it’s important in understanding one possible, alarming symptom with severe UTIs in cats (you might also see this with blockages. This behavior requires immediate veterinary care). Had we understood what we were looking at, he might have been correctly diagnosed sooner. **PLEASE NOTE: I TOOK THIS VIDEO AFTER WE GOT HOME FROM THE VET, BEFORE ANY MEDICINES HAD TAKEN EFFECT.**

He had some diarrhea in the carrier too, so at the time, the vet was thinking Chase was in gastro-intestinal distress. X-rays did not show either urinary or gastro-intestinal blockages, so she thought he had gastro-enteritis and gave us medicine to treat that. He seemed to improve, but about 24 hours later he relapsed, and then, all through Friday night, he seemed to get worse. I didn’t sleep at all.

Chase was very sick

By Saturday morning he didn’t want to move at all, and he was guarding his abdominal area. If I tried to touch his tummy, he’d kick at me weakly. So I rushed him back to the vet.

Once there, she wanted to do more x-rays, but changed her mind when she took a urine sample. It was so discolored she brought it in to show me. The red cells in the sample were too high to count, as were the bacteria in the sample. Chase was also running a fever (he hadn’t been on Thursday, when we first took him in), and the obvious pain he was in made the vet worry that the infection had spread to his kidneys. She gave him sub-q fluids because he was dehydrated, and brought him back to me all wrapped in a towel.

She sent the urine sample and blood samples to a lab for a full analysis, and I should hear something either today or tomorrow.

How best to treat UTIs in cats?

UTIs in cats are best treated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic, like Clavamox. The vet gave me seven days’ worth, and told me to keep giving him the medicine we’d originally gotten for gastro-enteritis because it has an anti-inflammatory effect. As soon as I got home, I gave Chase his first dose of Clavamox.

About six hours later, it appeared that Chase’s fever broke. He looked more alert and seemed to have a little bit more energy, and even wanted some water:

He also ate some dinner last night, and he ate a little breakfast and “lunch” today. And then he ate pretty much a full dinner. He’s enjoying his pill pockets, too, so giving him his meds on schedule isn’t hard.

Here’s how he’s sleeping right now – notice how he’s not guarding his abdominal area anymore:

What are some of the symptoms of UTIs in cats?

UTIs in cats are nothing to mess with. It’s vitally important to get your cat to the vet as quickly as possible for care if you notice any of the following:

  • Straining in or out of the litter box
  • Appearing to have pain while urinating
  • Using the litter box frequently but passing very little urine
  • Blood in urine clumps in the litter box (this can be hard to see)
  • Excessive licking of the genitals
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Excessive thirst

Left untreated, UTIs in cats can lead to pyelonephritis, which can damage your cat’s kidneys. This is what our vet is worried about with Chase. I think we got lucky with him given how sick he was just 48 hours ago. If you suspect your cat might have a UTI, call your vet immediately.

Pilling cats: Here are 4 methods for doing so

Every long-time cat owner has had to find ways to give their cat a pill. In fact, pilling cats is often so difficult that there are entire humorous stories dedicated to it. So how the hell do you do it without getting shredded and stressing out your poor cat to boot?

The easiest method for pilling cats is to turn it into a treat

One great method for pilling cats involves using something tasty, such as a pill pocket, her favorite treat, and even certain types of people food. This helps get her to eat the pill without really realizing that it’s even there. Chase and Gizmo are both on long-term medication, and we’ve found using pill pockets works very well. They hear the pill bottle and they come running, instead of hiding. Unfortunately, many cats will eat some of the treat, spit the pill out, and then finish the treat (or not). We’ve found that giving them empty pockets regularly helps keep them from learning there’s a yucky filling and spitting it out.

The old-fashioned way of pilling cats is stressful and can be dangerous, but here’s how you do it

There’s the old-fashioned way of pilling cats, which involves holding your cat down, forcing the pill into her mouth, then trying to make her swallow. According to Dr. Dawn Ruben of Petplace.com, the proper way to do this is:

  1. Firmly hold your cat’s head in your non-dominant hand, avoiding the lower jaw and neck/throat as much as possible. You don’t want to restrict your cat’s ability to swallow.
  2. Raise her nose upward, toward the ceiling, which should force her to open her mouth. This will also make it harder for her to bite you.
  3. Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of your free hand. Use your ring finger, pinkie or middle finger, gently press on her canines, which should make her open her mouth wider.
  4. Place the pill on her tongue, as far back towards her throat as you can, but avoid putting more of your hand in her mouth than is necessary. If you make her gag, the pill will come back up too and you’ll have to do it all over again. It might also be more difficult to pill her in the future if this happens.
  5. Close her mouth and gently hold her that way. You can then stroke the tip of her nose, which can make her stick her tongue out to lick away the tickle. That should make her swallow the pill. You can also very lightly stroke her throat, which can also make her swallow. The latter method is not always effective, however.

Remember to praise your cat, and even reward her with a treat, as soon as she’s swallowed it. You don’t want her to remember being frightened and uncomfortable.

I personally hate this method for pilling cats, though.

There are devices you can use to shoot the pill into the back of her throat

There are certain devices available for pilling cats that you can use without having to stick your fingers directly in her mouth. Devices like pill guns are basically a type of syringe that holds the pill in place, with a plunger that helps you get it onto the back of her tongue. This can help to save your fingers and time, because they’re less likely to be able to spit it out.

If you’re good at getting the pill onto the back of her tongue, but she’s stubborn about holding it on her tongue, try coating it with a little butter. This can help it slide down faster and prevent her from holding it in the back of her throat.

If none of these methods for pilling cats works, then consider this option

You can always take her medicine to a compounding pharmacy, if there’s one near you. These pharmacies make the medication easier and more convenient for your cat to take. They can even make it tasty so that she might find herself thinking of it as a treat, and want to take it. You can take a look at this list to see if there’s one near you, or ask your veterinarian for recommendations as to where to go.

Ideally, one of these methods should work. Remember, though, that one method will not work well with every cat. If you have a multi-cat household, you might find that what works well for one of your cats doesn’t work at all for another. The biggest keys are patience and staying calm.

6 Ways To Kitten-Proof Your Home

Do you have a new kitten, or are you considering getting a new kitten sometime soon? Basically, a kitten is like a small child. Anything she can get into, anything she can play with, anything she can capture, she will. So, before you give kittens the run of your house, you should try to kitten-proof your home as much as possible. This is both for her health and safety and for yours.

Kitten-proof your home by limiting her hiding places

The above picture is Kali when she was about four or five weeks old. She was the risk-taker. The explorer. And if she could find a way out of the pen in which we kept her and Chase, she would. And then she’d hide and we couldn’t find her. We’d tried to kitten-proof, but we didn’t put that speaker and her little claws together as a potential escape route.

So, the first thing you should do to kitten-proof your home is find all the possible hiding places your kitten could use. That includes places like inside the washer and dryer, behind them, under and behind furniture, inside closets, inside cabinets and drawers, and even inside furniture like your sofa or box spring. You kitten might be able to squeeze herself into nooks and crannies you can’t imagine.

Dr. Karen Becker recommends trying to limit her access to these kinds of hiding places as much as possible, especially when you’re not going to be home. This way, not only is she easier to find, but you also lower the risk that she’ll get herself stuck, and possibly seriously injured while trying to get out (this was our biggest worry with Kali). Also, when you’re doing laundry, check the washer and dryer very carefully before closing the door, to be sure she didn’t sneak in under all the clothes. Or just keep her out of your laundry room altogether.

Fragile or breakable items should be put away when you kitten-proof

You will also want to put away things you don’t want knocked over or broken as you kitten-proof, at least until you can teach her where she can and cannot climb. Cats climb, jump, explore, and they want to explore vertically as well as horizontally. Because of this, simply putting things out of reach, as you would for a young child, isn’t likely to work. Case in point – when we first brought Aria in, she jumped from the floor to the top of the mantle above the fireplace, and knocked our wedding goblets off. Of course, one of them shattered. We can replace it, but it’s not quite the same.

Putting these things inside cupboards, drawers and cabinets until she knows where she can and can’t go will help protect these things, and help protect her, too.

Be sure you keep cleaning supplies and anything else that might be toxic to her—like medicines and plants—locked away, or throw them out entirely if you can. She’ll get into anything and everything, especially when you’re not home to stop her.

Choking hazards should also be put away when you go through and kitten-proof

Other things you’ll want to put away, or make inaccessible or unappealing, are dangly things, and things she can swallow or choke on. Ribbons, rubber bands, hair ties, yarn, string, thread, needles, even packing peanuts, can all be dangerous for her. These may be things we don’t often think about, but with a kitten in the house, you should be very careful what you leave out. Put these things inside a latching drawer or cabinet to ensure she can’t get to them

Covering or hiding wires, cords and cables is necessary to kitten-proof your home

Another potential problem is the wires that are all over your house. Kali loves chewing wires. She chews them everywhere – we still haven’t been able to break her of it. So we’ve had to resort to putting things she doesn’t like on the wires because otherwise, she’ll just chew, and chew, and chew.

You can try bundling wires together in plastic tubes, but that may not stop your kitten from chewing them near the outlets. To truly kitten-proof this way, you should put something on the wires themselves that she doesn’t like. Unplugging wires you’re not using will help keep her safe as well.

To keep her away from them altogether, you can put something like Tigerbalm, or Vick’s VapoRub, on the surface of the wire, but test this first. Make sure she really doesn’t like the smell. The last thing you want to do is coat the wire in something she’s just going to lick off and possibly get sick from. Some cats really like menthol, so be sure it’s going to serve as a repellent before using it. This works for Kali, but not for Aria (but Aria’s not a wire-chewer).

You can also put aluminum foil, or something else noisy, down on the floor near the outlets, so she’s startled when she steps on it. The goal here is to make the environment surrounding your wires create negative associations, so she associates bad things with those areas or objects, and not with you.

This can also work for keeping her off the kitchen counters, and off of any furniture you don’t want her climbing. By the same token, you should replace what you’re taking away with acceptable outlets for climbing and chewing. So cat trees, shelves, and toys are a must.

Another kitten-proof method is putting strangling hazards out of reach

You will also want to get things with which she could potentially strangle herself out of reach. Cords on your blinds, and certain fabrics that she could put her head through, can be dangerous for her. In fact, one of our bed skirts has a hole in it, and when Kali was about six weeks old, she put her head through it, and then couldn’t get back out. She panicked and began struggling hard, turning over, and the fabric twisted around her neck. Fortunately I was right there and saw this happen so I was able to free her before she hurt herself.

After that, we tucked the bed skirt up under the mattress so that wouldn’t happen while we were out. To kitten-proof your home in a way that will help you avoid this potential tragedy, you’ll want to coil up cords and hang them on a tack or nail, or the curtain rod. Tuck away fabrics that she could stick her head through.

Finally, eliminating escape routes is a great way to kitten-proof your home

Her natural curiosity to explore will grow, so kitten-proof by blocking off or eliminating her potential escape routes. This applies even if you’re going to let her outdoors, because you don’t want her to slip out unnoticed. Chase once bolted out our back door faster than I was able to react. He only made it to the middle of the yard before he stopped and looked around in wonder, but had he run all the way to the back fence, he could have gone under it and been gone. You may want to consider an outdoor enclosure for her, especially if she just doesn’t seem happy staying inside all the time.

Aging Cats – Are Your Senior Cats Doing Well?

There are two aging cats in our house: Aria is 13, and Gizmo is 15, and we expect them to actually start showing their signs of aging anytime now. In fact, Gizmo has begun to show one those signs (beyond her formerly black whiskers) – she has arthritis in her left shoulder. However, neither of them has shown any indication that they’re seriously slowing down. To us, that means we have two cats that are aging well.

Signs to watch out for in aging cats

There are certain signs that indicate your cat’s health may be failing in her old age. Weight loss and lack of interest in playing are two of the biggest. Disorientation, interaction problems, sleep/wake disturbances,, house-soiling, and serious activity changes (DISHA) are other signs that your senior cat isn’t really aging well.

If she is, then she’ll be like Gizmo and Aria. Gizmo, despite her bad shoulder, still loves to play what we call “her game.” When she was a kitten and a young adult cat, she loved to chase us through the house and “catch” our ankles. She’d let us go, and then do it all over again. She doesn’t play it as often anymore, but she hasn’t stopped altogether.

Aria has a toy she still loves to play with – she was never really big on play aggression like Gizmo. She also shows heavy interest when we’re playing with our other cats, and she’ll lunge and pounce and chase with the best of them. She, too, belongs in the lofty class of aging cats that are doing so gracefully, although not as gracefully as Gizmo, we think. Why is that? She tires out far more easily than Gizmo, and she seems to have some difficulty moving already – something Gizmo didn’t show at age 13.

Changes in certain behaviors and looks may be still be normal for aging cats

Your cat’s appearance might change somewhat, even if she is aging well. One of the biggest telltale signs of an aging cat is something called lenticular sclerosis, which presents as a blue-white cloudiness of the eye pupil. Both Gizmo and Aria show this sign.

Decreased mobility and a decline in vision can also be normal things for aging cats, even though it may not appear so. Changes in eating and sleeping patterns may be present also. Basically, if your cat isn’t showing any DISHA signs (listed above) then she’s probably aging well. She might live to her 20s, or even longer!

On Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day – Our Kitty-girl

Chances are, if you have pets, you also have pets over the Rainbow Bridge. I know I do. Kitty, who was abused as a kitten and extremely defensive when we took her in, and whom I took to live with me after I moved out at 18, went to the Rainbow Bridge in December of 2006. Today is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, and I’m thinking about our little Kitty-girl.

For Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, here is Kitty’s story

And little she was! She never weighed more than about seven pounds, but she was a stocky little cat. Muscular. Like she worked out so she could always defend herself. We don’t know what all her abusers did to her, but we do know that, at some point, they broke her tail and it healed that way. We could touch her tail, but one touch would usually cause her to tuck it away from us.

Other than that, she was just defensive. Her abusers had said something about her being vicious, and at first glance, it did seem like she was quite vicious. If you took all of her behavior together, though, then a different pictured emerged. Yes, she was prone to biting, scratching, growling and hissing. Yes, she did injure us. But she mostly hid, and only became “vicious” when we were trying to catch her and had her cornered.

She was actually just defending herself. “Vicious” is something else entirely.

Bringing Kitty to live with just me

When I moved out of the house, I lived for a year without a cat and I couldn’t deal. I needed a cat. I’d talked with my dad about bringing Kitty to live with me because we thought she might come out of her shell better if she was the only cat. When I first let her out in my apartment, she disappeared behind the couch. I left her alone, knowing that she’d come out when she was ready.

That night, she woke me up by mewing at me from the floor. She wanted me to watch her eat for some reason – it was almost like she was asking me for permission to eat, and she wouldn’t do it unless I was there. But that didn’t last for very long, and being an only cat, with only one human to deal with, did have the effect we wanted. She began to come out of her shell, and would even seek attention from me. That was something she’d never done before.

She had behavior issues such as stress marking, which I just dealt with because it was to be expected, I felt. She was never going to be anything other than on-edge no matter how quiet things were for her.

That went on for as long as we had her. She would act attention-starved sometimes, and just want to be left alone others. When we started bringing more cats into the house, she did much better than she’d been doing at my dad’s house, possibly because we were bringing cats into her house, and not bringing her into someone else’s house.

The night that Kitty left for the Rainbow Bridge

In 2006, she was 15 years old, and slowing down. We’d started feeding her wet food only because it seemed she had trouble eating the dry food. One night, I was folding laundry, and she was bouncing around the bed and driving me nuts like she always did when I folded laundry. Later on, she disappeared into the other bedroom and lay down by the heat vent, which was her favorite place to sleep in the winter. She never woke up.

We learned from the vet that she’d had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and what had had happened was that her heart could no longer pump enough blood to keep her alive. She went very peacefully – there was no evidence at all that she’d been in any pain. And now she waits for us, along with all the other pets my family has lost, at the Rainbow Bridge.

Sometimes I think she visits me in the middle of the night. I’ll feel the bed shake slightly like it did when she jumped up on it, and I’ll look up, expecting to see a cat. There’s nobody there. So I believe that sometimes, she comes to me from the Rainbow Bridge to say hi, and tell me she’s still watching and waiting.

Do you have a pet at the Rainbow Bridge?

Type 2 Diabetes In Cats – Lowering The Risk

It’s hard to know exactly how to prevent certain diseases in our cats. For instance, chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes are somewhat common in older cats. We have an idea of how to prevent type 2 diabetes in ourselves, but since dietary options seem so limited for pets, it might seem as though it’s impossible to even try to prevent type 2 diabetes in cats. However, an article by Dr. Jennifer Coates tells us how to minimize the risk.

The right diet is the biggest thing you can do to help prevent type 2 diabetes in cats

Despite seemingly limited options, the first thing to consider is, obviously, diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, and while they can process limited amounts of carbs for energy, their bodies aren’t designed to process large amounts on a daily basis. Yet, that’s what we do to them with commercial food, particularly dry food.

As with people, too many carbs for too long can cause insulin resistance, resulting in type 2 diabetes in cats. Dr. Coates says that cats need a low-carb, high-protein, moderate-fat diet to reduce that risk. There are commercial foods out there that provide this kind of balance; you don’t have to make your own cat food. You do want to look for a food with a higher percentage of protein than carbs, however.

Also, don’t think that “grain free” means “low carb,” because it doesn’t. Many grain-free foods still contain high amounts of carbs. So choose a food for your cat based on the amounts of protein, fat and carbs contained inside, and find one that has the highest percentage of protein possible. This will reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in cats.

The right amount of food can also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in cats

Of course, diet is only part of the solution. Another other part is fixing the amount your cat eats. As with people, type 2 diabetes in cats is linked to weight. Dr. Coates says that obesity is probably the number one risk factor for diabetes, and feeding too much food can wipe out all the good you’re doing by feeding the right diet.

One thing you can do is feed your cat on a schedule, instead of free feeding him. If your cat is a kitten, then feed him with the goal of maintaining a slim body type. When he grows up and you’re ready to switch him over to adult food, you should ask your vet how much food he needs on a daily basis, and what an ideal weight for him is.

All cats are different, so an ideal weight for one cat may be overweight, or underweight, for another. Weigh him at least once a month, and fine-tune his portion sizes based on whether he should gain or lose weight.

These are two of the most important risk factors for type 2 diabetes in cats that you have control over. There are other risk factors, too, which you may not be able to control, and your cat may still develop diabetes despite your best efforts. However, as with ourselves, it’s wise to control what we can so that we minimize the risk of our cats’ developing certain conditions later in life.

Feline Ear Infections: Causes, symptoms, and treatments

Many of us don’t necessarily want to call our vets for every little concern we have about our cats, and some may not be able to afford a vet visit for everything. You might be able to treat small things, like minor feline ear infections, if you notice it early enough. Remember, though, that if your cat’s ears don’t improve, or they get worse, after you try treating them, you do need to take her to the vet.

What causes feline ear infections?

Ear infections are exactly what they say: An infection of the ear canal. Ear mites, allergies, tumors, foreign objects, generalized skin diseases, and trauma, can all cause feline ear infections. Yeast and other fungus can cause infections also.

Whether you decide to try treating it at home, or take your cat to the vet, depends on whether you can figure out what’s causing the infection. Injuries, tumors, and skin diseases all require a vet visit. Ear mites, if you know what they are, may not require a visit, but you will need to get an anti-parasitic from your vet to get rid of the mites.

In case you decide to treat your cat’s infection at home, PetPlace has some advice for you. The first thing to do is to evaluate her ears. Dr. Debra Primovic, of PetPlace, says that if you see bleeding, extreme swelling or redness, or discharge, you should take your cat to the vet. These symptoms mean that the infection is serious enough to need a vet’s intervention.

You might be able to help treat certain feline ear infections with the following steps (but you really need to call your vet):

If the above symptoms of feline ear infections are not present, but you see your cat tilting and shaking her head a lot and you suspect an infection, you can try the following:

  • Get a commercial ear cleaning solution, preferably from your vet. You won’t use this first, but you should have it available for when you need it.
  • Try cleaning debris out of the parts of your cat’s ears that you can see. You might have to restrain her, so wrap her in a big, fluffy towel, leaving only her head exposed. Use a soft cotton ball or gauze pad dampened with warm water to clean her ear lobes. Rub the pad or cotton ball gently across her ear lobes to remove dirt, wax, and other outer debris. This will help ensure that you don’t introduce more problems into her ear later.
  • After you clean her outer ear, start cleaning the cartilage with a cotton swab and warm water. Work to remove any dirt and debris that might be trapped there. Dr. Debra warns, though, that you should always be able to see the tip of the cotton swab. If you try to stick the swab down your cat’s ear canal, you could cause serious problems in addition to making her ear infection worse.
  • Once that’s all done, you’ll need to clean out the insides of her ears. To do that, you’ll need the ear cleaning solution you picked up from your vet. Flush a small amount into her ear, and massage the base. Then use a cotton ball to soak up the solution. Be careful, because massaging cats’ ears this way makes them feel funny. She’ll want to shake her head, and she definitely won’t like it.

You’ll also want to give your cat treats periodically throughout this whole process, the way you would when teaching her to tolerate having her nails clipped or dealing with any other unpleasant experience. If she associates a reward with the ordeal, then it’ll be easier to do next time.

It’s best to let a vet treat ear infections, though

Cleaning only works on feline ear infections if foreign debris caused it. If the infection continues after this treatment, then you need to take your cat to the vet. According to Dr. Lorie Hutson, there are often underlying causes that your vet will have to treat to clear the infection. The most common cause of ear infections in cats is ear mites, which you can treat with topical anti-parasitic medications like Revolution. Avoid over-the-counter treatments, because these can have serious side effects for your cat.

If your cat does not have ear mites, and the ear cleaning solution doesn’t help, your vet will look for the underlying cause, and treat that in addition to the infection. Many prescription treatments for ear infections in cats are ointments that you apply manually, and have antibacterial or antifungal properties, depending on what’s causing your cat’s infection.

In the end, though, if your cat is not improving within a day or two of cleaning, you should take her to the vet. Feline ear infections are like other infections in cats, and can become serious if they aren’t treated. Always call your vet if you have questions or concerns.

 

Cross Species Transfusion Saves Cat’s Life

A needy cat received a blood transfusion from an unlikely source: A dog. Specifically, Marathon Veterinary Hospital’s supply of dog blood. According an article in The Huffington Post, Buttercup’s owner brought him in because he seemed overly lethargic. Buttercup’s red blood cell count was down to 7%, meaning he needed a transfusion, but it would have taken the hospital too long to find cat blood that matched. That meant he would likely die before he got the needed blood, and a cross species transfusion was their last hope.

A cross species transfusion? Really?

A cross species transfusion is also known as a xenotransfusions, and currently, house cats are the only species able to receive blood from dogs. Buttercup is one of only 63 cases in the U.S. to receive a xenotransfusion, according to The Huffington Post‘s story.

Business Insider reports that some dogs are like some humans in that they have a universal blood type. This isn’t true of all dogs, like it isn’t true of all humans. That means their blood can potentially go to other species, just as the blood from universal human donors can go to anybody with any blood type.

How often can a cat receive a cross species transfusion?

However, cross species transfusions can only be performed once because the recipient’s body builds up antibodies that can make a second such transfusion dangerous if it’s not performed within the next four to six days, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In a paper they published in Feb. 2013 about these transfusions, they say that cats do not appear to have antibodies against the antigens in canine blood. This is why Buttercup could receive blood from a dog.

Buttercup began returning to his usual self after getting the dog’s blood. ABC News says that subsequent checkups show he’s creating his own red blood cells again. The vet hospital does not know what caused his red count to drop to begin with.

Scrappy, The Famous Cat With Vitiligo, Is Ill

Most die-hard cat people know who Scrappy is (I know I’m a big fan). He’s a black cat who mysteriously began turning white, and now has black-and-white markings that are very unique. He’s 18 years old, too, which means he’s likely to have health problems, and health problems are what he’s going through now.

Scrappy’s health problems are common for cats his age

Scrappy has been diagnosed with liver and kidney problems that are terminal, according to PetsRadio.com. While his parent doesn’t explain exactly what’s wrong, we do know that he’s on medication that can help prolong his life:

The last update to his Facebook page is a photo of him in a garden that was posted yesterday.

How did Scrappy come by his markings?

Scrappy became famous across the Internet for his very unusual markings. He’s black-and-white, but not like any black-and-white cats that we’re used to. Instead of being a tuxedo cat, or a black-and-white tabby, his fur is oddly spotted, with no rhyme or reason to the markings.

He was born in 1997 as a solid black cat, but over time, white blotches began appearing in his fur. Apparently, he has vitiligo – the same condition that caused Michael Jackson’s skin to turn white. In cats, vitiligo is very rare, and it will make a black cat’s fur slowly turn white.

That’s why this cat has such unusual markings, which make him unique and quite handsome. It was a relief to me to find that vitiligo doesn’t affect a cat’s health at all. It just affects his coloring and his markings, and that’s the case with Scrappy. Until recently, he was a healthy and happy cat.

The vet originally gave him six months, but perhaps they’re optimistic that his new diet and medicine will help him live longer than that. Unfortunately, given his age, it may just be his time. Either way, Scrappy is well-loved, and well-taken care of, and his life will no doubt continue to be very full.

 

Featured image via embedded Facebook post