Ask The Vet - Dr. Anne Pierce, DVM


Barney was none too happy to be at the office. His plans for the day had clearly revolved around eating some cat food, curling up in the sun by the window, and then going back for some more cat food later. Unfortunately for him he had been periodically hacking for the past four days, and his owner was getting tired of racing across the house to hold a newspaper under his chin in an attempt to catch the hairball that he was apparently trying to bring up. So far no hairball had actually been produced, but the cat was still hacking.

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Cat Bite Abscesses

Mrs. Johnson had fluffy on the table in front of me. In the past two days he had developed a large lump on his rear end near the base of his tail, and today he wasn’t willing to eat or move around very much. He wasn’t even pestering her to let him go outside, an essential part of his daily routine. Fluffy made it clear that lifting his tail to have his temperature taken was painful for him, but even though Fluffy wouldn’t reveal his secret, the number on the thermometer, 105.4 (cats usually range between 100 and 102.5 degrees F), told the story. Fluffy had had a hostile encounter with another neighborhood cat and an infected bite wound was the result.

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Declawing cats can be a controversial subject. On one side of the argument are the people who point out that it is a painful surgical procedure that has no medical benefit for the cat and therefore is tantamount to mutilation for human convenience sake. On the other side of the argument are landlords who will not rent to people who have cats that are not declawed, people who have cats that are extremely destructive with their claws in spite of their best efforts to divert the cats, and people with very fragile skin that are easily injured even by innocuous contact from their cat.

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Dental Problems in Cats--FORL

February is national dental health month, and that includes pet dental health too.  Our hospital, like many others around town and across the country, is offering special discounts for dental work done during this month.  I am pleased this year to see more cats coming in for dental work.  I think that cats sometimes get short shrift in medical attention in general because they often do not give obvious signs that they are having problems, and, to be honest, stuffing a frantic cat into the box of death, listening to it howl all the way to the clinic, and then watching your beloved pet feel bewildered and frightened is not an experience that many people (or cats) want to go out of their way to have.

Cats are often quite healthy when younger, but one of the biggest problems they face is dental disease.  Dental problems often start at young ages and they can be a source of a lot of pain and suffering.  The good news is that much of the misery caused by dental problems in cats can be fixed.  It just needs to be identified first.

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Feline Leukemia Virus and FIV

Dogs have been hogging the spotlight lately in this column, so this week I want to focus on a uniquely feline set of problems:  Feline Leukemia Virus (FELV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

These two terrible viruses have a prevalence in the normal cat population of about 2-3%, a number that may not seem very high until it is your cat that has the problem.  Both viruses are in the retrovirus family which is the same family that HIV, the causative agent for AIDS, is in.  Never fear, these viruses only infect cats and cannot be transmitted to any other species.

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Ask Dr. Anne Pierce, DVM