Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Why do cats owners take their pet to the veterinarian less often than dog owners do? We speak to two local veterinarians about the benefits of preventive care for cats, and some of the most common illnesses that cats face.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Everyone knows that dogs and cats are very different, but they both can get sick. That's why it's troubling to learn that cats are taken in to the vet less than half as much as dogs, and they often don’t get treatment until they are very sick. There's an effort now underway to encourage cat owners to take their pets in for a checkup. In fact, this week has been named “Take Your Cat to the Vet” Week. Anyone who's ever listened to a howling cat in the car on the way to the vet can tell you it's not always easy, but it can have some practical benefits for both you and your pet in the long run. I’d like to welcome my guests. Our friend Dr. Katy Allen is a local veterinarian, owner of Canterbury Tails Veterinary Services. Katy, welcome back.
DR. KATY ALLEN (Veterinarian): Thank you, Maureen. Nice to see you.
CAVANAUGH: And Dr. Michelle Metcalf is a veterinarian at the Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center. Michelle, good morning.
DR. MICHELLE METCALF (Veterinarian): Thank you for having me.
CAVANAUGH: We’d like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. How can – how do you tell when your cat is not feeling right? How hard is it to get your cat to the vet? Call us with your questions and your stories. Our number is 1-888-895-5727, that’s 1-888-895-KPBS. I want to start with you, Michelle. Why is it, what are the reasons, do you think, that cat owners tend to take their pet to the vet less than dog owners?
DR. METCALF: One thing, cats are very good at hiding when they don’t feel very well. And so sometimes it’s very difficult to figure out that they’re not feeling very good before they ever have an opportunity to come in. A lot of kitties are indoors nowadays and I think a lot of people start perceiving that because they’re indoors and they’re not really exposed to other things, there’s not really a reason for them to have to go in. Vaccines have changed quite a bit. We don’t do them as often as we used to, and so I think sometimes people take their kitty to the vet, they get vaccines and they’re not due again for three years so they decide that I don’t really need to come in for another three years when it’s really best to see them on a yearly basis, at least for a physical exam. And then as they start to get older, that actually starts to increase over time as well.
CAVANAUGH: What is it about the different, Katy, between dogs and cats that dogs get, you know, you can see more when perhaps a dog is not feeling right or maybe it’s tripped over something or…
DR. ALLEN: Well, dogs are very much in your face kind of pets…
DR. ALLEN: …and that’s why people who are dog people love their dogs because they’re bouncing around. People tend to interact more with their dogs, to take them out for walks, they play with them. So if your dog is limping, you’ll notice it. If it doesn’t go poo or pee, you’ll notice it because you walk them…
DR. ALLEN: …for that to happen, whereas you’re not taking your cat for a walk. And dogs are a little less stoic than cats. I think that’s probably a polite way of putting it. So if they don’t feel well, they’re likely to come and tell you whereas, often, a cat, their way, if they don’t feel well, they just go off and hide and so you don’t even see them.
CAVANAUGH: And is there also, Katy, a general perception that cats are just more self sufficient.
DR. ALLEN: Oh, absolutely. A lot of people think of cats as a low maintenance pet. You know, think, oh, I’d love to have a pet, cant’ be bothered to walk a dog and that sort of thing so I’m going to get a cat who really doesn’t, from their point of view, really doesn’t need much in the way of care. If they go away for the weekend, they’ll just pour out a big bowl of food and a huge bowl of water and off they go for two, three days. So the perception for a lot of people, not everybody obviously, but for a lot of people is that they are low maintenance and that’s their mindset, low maintenance, and so they just really are not paying quite as much attention as they would to a dog.
CAVANAUGH: So, Michelle, Dr. Metcalf, what – so how to change that attitude then? Tell us why and when a cat should be taken to the vet.
DR. METCALF: A couple different things there. One is that whole – part of that vaccine protocol where we’ve changed things over the years and now we don’t vaccinate them quite as often, it’s…
CAVANAUGH: And why is that?
DR. METCALF: Part of it is, initially, you know, we used to have them come in on a definite yearly basis. Over time, we’ve had research show us that they have a longer immunity to their vaccines than what we used to perceive and so now we’ve separated out those vaccines so you don’t have to vaccinate them as often.
DR. ALLEN: Right.
CAVANAUGH: Is there something detrimental to the cat to get those vaccines on a yearly basis even though perhaps they don’t – they still have enough of the stuff in their system so that they don’t really need a new one?
DR. METCALF: Sure, sure. There’s actually about one in 10,000 that will receive a vaccine will actually develop a fibrosarcoma. It’s a type of tumor that can develop from getting vaccines. And because there’s that risk there, there has been, you know, things done and put into place to try and prolong that period in between when they need those vaccines. In doing so, I think we’ve ended up with cats that don’t come in quite as often and it’s important for them to come in, really, on a yearly basis. We check their weight, certainly overall do a nice general exam, check their teeth. That’s a lot of things that – dental disease is probably something that a lot of people really don’t realize how significant it can really be in their cat, and cats are good at really not showing when they don’t feel very well. We kind of touched on that already.
DR. METCALF: And so when you start to have that sort of thing coming up it’s hard to pick up if they’re having problems with their teeth, and that’s something that we can find out on a physical exam.
CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Dr. Michelle Metcalf of the Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center, and Dr. Katy Allen of Canterbury Tails Veterinary Services. And we’re talking about specifically taking your cat to the vet and also how to pick up on signs that your cat isn’t feeling well or maybe needs to go and have a visit to the vet. And we’re taking your calls. If you’d like to share your stories about either how you can tell when your cat isn’t feeling right or why it’s so difficult to take your cat to the vet or just any health stories you have about your cat, give us a call, 1-888-895-5727, that’s 1-888-895-KPBS. Let me get to that, Katy, and ask you, as a veterinarian what strategies do you either have or know about for getting cats to a vet’s office? Because, you know, I mean, getting a cat into a carrier for a visit can be, you know, very hard.
DR. ALLEN: Oh, it can be very traumatic for the cat and be quite traumatic for the owner.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah.
DR. ALLEN: Actually, I see a few people come in all scratched up. Really, it’s a matter of planning ahead. I tell my cat owners to have their cat carrier, if they’ve got room, in the house just as part of the furniture. They can maybe leave the top off it and it’s certainly best to have one of those that you can just unclip the top and take that off rather than have to stuff your cat in through a small hole. Is have it around as part of the furniture. You can either play games, you know, with one of those little fishing – fishing reel things…
DR. ALLEN: …and let the little feather on the end get in the carrier so they jump in. You could occasionally just throw the odd, random treat into the carrier so the carrier doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to get grabbed, stuffed head first into this dark place, put in a car that I hate, and I’m off to see someone who’s going to take my temperature in a very uncomfortable place. So you can do that. You can also get them used to being in the carrier and being in the car. Once they’re in the carrier, then let them out. Next time, carry them to the car but don’t start the car. Next time, start the car but don’t move the car. You know, if you’ve got the time and the willingness you can just do it step-wise and it won’t be a problem.
CAVANAUGH: And, Michelle, any tips from you?
DR. METCALF: It’s the same type thing. And the younger you start, the better. They – When you have them as a kitten, a lot of times I’ve even told some of my kitten owners that definitely make it a game, even put food in there. I’ll have some kitties that get so used to their carrier as kittens that when they’re nervous they’ll go in their carrier. And it’s also a tip off for the owners, too, when they’re not feeling well, if they start hiding in the carrier because it’s their own little place to go. Another good thing to use is called Feliway, it’s a pheromone.
DR. METCALF: It’s meant to try and help relax them and spraying it around the carrier or on a towel that you’re going to put into a carrier will help quite a bit. If you’re going to spray it on there, you’ll want to let it sit for about 30 minutes until it completely dries and then put them into the carrier after that.
CAVANAUGH: Because, you know, I have known people who bring their cats to the vet’s and there’s sort of like a do not touch order on the – The veterinarian puts this on the cat because the cat has just turned into the Tasmanian devil and cannot be approached. Why is that, Katy? I mean, you know, do you ever run into that problem with dogs?
DR. ALLEN: A lot less. I mean, certainly some dogs will be very fearful and then they’ll back up into the corner of the exam room and if you try and approach them in the corner then obviously they feel cornered and they – they won’t – they might be aggressive towards you. But cats certainly, they take a certain touch. If you go to your veterinarian where they’re happy to put you and your cat in an exam room, a nice quiet exam room from the start rather than have you wait 15 minutes in a waiting room full of dogs barking. So there’s certainly things that you can do to make it an easier visit but there are times – I can think of a couple of times when I’ve not been able to touch my patient.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah. Have you run into that as well, Michelle?
DR. METCALF: Oh, definitely.
DR. METCALF: Unfortunately, you get some that come in and they’re just – they’re so worked up it’s not going to happen.
CAVANAUGH: Right, right.
DR. METCALF: And a lot of times in those cases I’ll actually send them a sedative and have them give them a sedative before they come in. Even in those cases, sometimes I’ll still have to go ahead and sedate them in order for us to really be able to do an effective physical exam and find out what’s going on there. But some kitties, they get out of their home environment and they’re just kind of done with that whole thing.
CAVANAUGH: There really is a difference between dogs and cats.
DR. METCALF: Huge.
CAVANAUGH: We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727 about your cat health and veterinarian questions. That’s 1-888-895-KPBS. Leah is on the line from Valley Center. Good morning, Leah, and welcome to These Days.
LEAH (Caller, Valley Center): Good morning. Thanks for taking my call.
CAVANAUGH: You’re welcome.
LEAH: I had a question. I have a 19-year-old cat and I just figured I would let her just live out the rest of her years. I haven’t taken her in, I’m sorry to say, in quite a few years. She doesn’t seem to have anything wrong with her. She’s just old and very thin. My kids call her Stegosaurus because her backbone, you can feel when you pet her. But I just wondered if there was anything in particular you would suggest for really old cats?
DR. ALLEN: Oh, absolutely. My first soapbox is age is not a disease. Just by value of being old you don’t have to have things wrong with you. Now, certainly, as we age, things do start to sort of crap out and we don’t do very well but an elderly kitty that’s lost a lot of weight, that could be something that we can do something about. I mean, certainly, it might be diabetes, it might be an overactive thyroid, could even be something like parasitism or a primary bowel problem. Some of those might be something you don’t want to pursue in a very elderly cat. You know, some people feel that after a certain period of time they don’t want to do an awful lot for their very old cats but there might be something that we can do so your kitty, however long she does have left, or he has left, would be a much more pleasant time. And, certainly, losing weight is not a normal aging change and there may well be something that we can relatively easily diagnose and do something about without, you know, doing anything too heroic.
CAVANAUGH: I’m wonder – Yes, Michelle, go ahead.
DR. METCALF: One of the most common things, I was thinking, in the older cats is kidney disease. They’ll actually start drinking a lot more and urinating a lot more and sometimes that can be hard to pick up on in a kitty and it causes them to start to have some muscle wasting and so you’ll have these very old kitties that seem like they’re doing just fine but they’re slowly dropping weight and it’s due to something like a kidney disease process. And there are things that we can do to try and help offset that.
CAVANAUGH: I’m wondering, how, Michelle, how old do cats live now? I mean, what’s the oldest cat you’ve been treating lately?
DR. METCALF: We had one in this week that was 23.
CAVANAUGH: I see. And you, Katy?
DR. ALLEN: Actually, I’ve had one at 26.
CAVANAUGH: Aha, oh boy.
DR. ALLEN: And, again, that’s pretty new. When I first graduated, we used to see 12 and 13 year old cats thinking, oh, it won’t be long now. Don’t buy any large bags of cat food. And now, well up into their teens is very, very normal.
DR. METCALF: We see probably 19, 20-year-old cats on a regular basis.
DR. ALLEN: Yeah, absolutely.
DR. METCALF: So when they start getting up, 23, 24, that gets a little more exciting and everybody starts talking about that one’s 23.
CAVANAUGH: But 19…
DR. METCALF: No big deal.
CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Dr. Katy Allen and Dr. Michelle Metcalf and we’re talking about the health of your cat, when to take your cat in to the vet, how to recognize signs of illness. We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Let’s take a call from Dalin in Fallbrook. Good morning, Dalin. Welcome to These Days.
DALIN (Caller, Fallbrook): That’s Dalin, actually. How are you?
CAVANAUGH: I’m fine. Thank you.
DALIN: Good. I’d like to relate a story which may save a lot of cats. It’s so important sometimes when a disease is misdiagnosed to get a second opinion. We were informed that one of our favorite cats, Stuey, had asthma. He had a lot of trouble breathing. He was wheezing and it was like he couldn’t catch his breath. So our regular vet in Fallbrook had been treating him for asthma but this wasn’t the case. So we took a ride up to another town—I’m not mentioning any veterinarian—and they instantly diagnosed it as he had a bad cyst at the base of his throat, which was filled with fluid. So a surgeon, who specializes on cats, operated on Stuey and he was absolutely fine. Now I’m sure that if we hadn’t taken him to a second place that, you know, he would be dead by now and we’ve had him since 2000, so he’s a wonderful cat. He actually hitchhiked a ride on a horse van down from Canada, so he’s not even legal. He doesn’t even have a green card, and we picked him up at San Luis Rey Downs where I used to exercise horses. So…
DR. ALLEN: Well, we won’t tell on you. It’s okay.
CAVANAUGH: Dalin, thank you so much for the call.
DR. ALLEN: I mean, that is a very valid point. Just like in human medicine, if you see a case and you – the diagnosis may very well have been a valid primary diagnosis. You know, when you see a certain set of signs, you go with what’s most likely. But then both your veterinarian and the owner, too, has responsibility that if the treatment for that diagnosis isn’t doing the job, it’s time to look again. And either your primary veterinarian can look again or sometimes they’ll say, okay, I’m flummoxed, let’s move on, and maybe send you off to somebody else who’s got different equipment or is more specialized. So second opinions are always a good idea with a case that’s not responding and any veterinarian worth their salt will welcome that, will welcome you doing that.
DR. METCALF: And one of the really great things about San Diego is we have so many specialists in this area. We have internal medicine specialists, you have surgical specialists, you know, we have groups that deal with nothing but cancer. It’s really a great area to be able to get that second opinion and actually get it from somebody who is specializing in the area that your pet is having a problem.
CAVANAUGH: To really hone in on what the exact problem is. That’s interesting. Let’s take another call. We’re taking your calls, by the way, at 1-888-895-5727. Kevin is calling us from Carlsbad. Good morning, Kevin. Welcome to These Days.
KEVIN (Caller, Carlsbad): Good morning.
KEVIN: Hi. Yeah, I have a cat. She’s about four or five years old and lately, the past two or three months, she’s been urinating on all of our rugs, she’s urinated on my slippers, the shorts I wore that day, my pants, if I leave them on the floor she urinates on them. And it just started the last couple of months. Can you tell me what’s going on?
DR. ALLEN: Well, this is one of the most common reasons we get to see kitties. In fact, probably I think Michelle, I’ll let you handle that one.
DR. METCALF: There are, well, unfortunately, there are quite a few reasons why she could be doing something like that. Certainly, you can have problems with things like just a urinary tract infection, which is something that you can treat. You can have a problem with cystitis, meaning that it’s not actually including any kind of a bacterial type infection but you’ve got inflammation of the bladder wall and that’s a whole different type of problem. Bladder stones can create those types of problems. There can be underlying problems like kidney disease or diabetes that can do those types of things. And, unfortunately, there are some that it’s a behavioral problem. And a lot of times it’s going in and doing the work necessary to rule out all of those medical things before you can make that sort of a diagnosis. But the best thing would actually be that to take her in to the veterinarian’s office. I’m sure they’ll want to check a urine sample.
CAVANAUGH: So even after five years, it could be a behavioral problem just to start up like that?
DR. METCALF: Some cats, if they get stressed with something new, they’ll start doing something inappropriately. An introduction to another cat in the household, an introduction to a cat that’s outside of your house that’s just decided to start hanging around is enough to set your cat off on the inside, too.
DR. ALLEN: Or a new person in the household, a change of your own routine, anything. Holidays, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: Sensitive little beasts, aren’t they?
DR. ALLEN: They are.
DR. METCALF: They are, the little angels.
CAVANAUGH: We are talking about cats and we have two veterinarians here to take your calls about your cat health problems, perhaps behavior problems, and what you should look for about a sign that it’s time to take your cat to the vet. We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. We have to take a short break. We’ll return. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.
CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. My guests are Dr. Katy Allen and Dr. Michelle Metcalf. They’re both veterinarians, and we’re talking about “Take Your Cat to the Vet” Week, how to keep your cat healthy, maybe get a checkup every now and then, and watch for signs that your cat may not be feeling well. We’re taking your calls, your questions and your comments, at 1-888-895-5727. And let me ask you, Michelle, I guess, you know, if people see that their cat’s not eating and all huddled in a corner and not cleaning himself or herself, they’re going to be pretty easy to make the determination that their cat’s not feeling well. What are some of the more subtle signs perhaps or the misinterpreted signs that cats are really unwell?
DR. METCALF: Okay, the – a couple of things that I think would be very helpful for a lot of people. I know a lot of people don’t like to have to clean the litter box but it would be very helpful if they were doing that actually on a daily basis and there’s a couple reasons for that. One is when you have a kitty that’s going to the box and you start cleaning it out every day, you know how much that cat is going into the box, how big the little urine spots are that it leaves behind and if you start to see a trend where suddenly, gosh, this box is wet all the time, that’s an indication that you’ve got something going on. And other things that, you know, the self-feeders, they’re great.
DR. METCALF: I mean, they’re really nice and how convenient they are but if you’re actually measuring out how much your cat eats on a daily basis, you’re going to pick up, wow, you know, I noticed that over the last couple of days she normally eats a half a cup of food every day and lately she’s only been eating maybe, you know, half of that. And you’ll start to pick up on those types things. You know, I’m just as guilty as everybody else about not wanting to clean out the litter box or using, you know, just a big bowl of food but the more you measure those types of things out or look at those litter box habits, that’s a good way to pick things up that way.
CAVANAUGH: And, Katy, are there signs that perhaps people misinterpret, that even if they’re very observant and they watch their cat, let’s say at the litter?
DR. ALLEN: Yeah, absolutely. There are a couple of very important things that people will often misinterpret. The first most important one is that I will get a phone call saying, oh, my cat seems to be constipated. She’s been going back and forth to the box, or usually he, actually, has been going back and forth to the box and producing nothing. Well, nine times out of ten or maybe 99 times out of 100 that’s not actually constipation. It’s the kitty that cannot urinate. He’s trying to empty his bladder but he’s blocked and cannot empty his bladder. And so going to repeat visits to the litter box and trying and producing nothing, and if it really is a blocked urethra, the bladder can’t empty, then that’s actually a life-threatening situation and that goes two or three days, that’s a dead kitty. Whereas, you know, three days not going to the bath – you know, not actually passing a stool, that’s a whole different matter, so if you think your cat’s constipated, please, please, please take your kitty in and make sure that the veterinarian can confirm that or if it’s the bladder, they can treat that straightaway because that does constitute an emergency. The other couple of things here is people will often see their kitties urinating a lot and they will interpret that as his kidneys are working great because he’s just peeing up a storm here. Well, actually that can be a sign of many diseases, and most commonly kidney failure or even diabetes. So urinating more than usual is just as worrying as urinating less than usual.
DR. ALLEN: And the same goes for appetite. A vastly increased appetite doesn’t mean we’re hearty and healthy necessarily. It can also mean an overactive thyroid or it can mean diabetes and a few other things. So, again, any changes, whether increased or decreased, both of those are reasons to go check out with your veterinarian, and people often misinterpret that and so we get to missed diseases that we could help them with a lot, lot earlier.
CAVANAUGH: We have a number of people who want to join the conversation so let me take some phone calls. Carol is calling us from Escondido. Good morning, Carol, and welcome to These Days.
CAROL (Caller, Escondido): Good morning. My cat is definitely not feeling well. And, in addition, when he sits down, he holds his right paw up high in the air and he limps but I can’t find anything physically in his paw or any reason why he would be doing that. Do you have any comment about that?
DR. METCALF: In a situation like that where you’re actually seeing limping going on at home, it’s the same type things that could be for your dog or even for us. You could have something actually going on with the bone or with the joint itself. How old is your kitty?
CAROL: He’s about 9 or 10.
DR. METCALF: He’s old enough that you could even be starting to have things like arthritis popping up. You can have other things going on with the bone. Sometimes they can get infections that – that doesn’t always seem to be a rhyme or reason that as to just how it got started but it’s there and that’s something really you should see your veterinarian, and they’ll probably talk to you about doing things like maybe taking x-rays and looking to see if there’s changes with the joints or with the bones.
CAROL: Yeah, well, okay. Thank you very much.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Carol. Let’s take another call. Deborah is calling us from Kearny Mesa. Good morning, Deborah, and welcome to These Days.
DEBORAH (Caller, Kearny Mesa): Good morning. Thank you for taking my call. I have one I think will test your vets’ thought process.
DR. ALLEN: Oh-oh.
DEBORAH: I have a cat, a year old, who is a Manx cat, has a spinal injury, so she has no control of her bowels and bladder. And she also has both back feet are deformed, so she walks actually on her elbow, or, I’m sorry, on her ankle, and the feet are turned in so she doesn’t walk on the pads of her feet. So recently she has worn a hole through her ankle and she – we’re in the process of her third surgical procedure to try to put some padding over that, some skin or whatever over it. But I’m wondering if either of the veterinarians know of any sort of padding device that can be used to protect that area, and so far it’s only one foot but I’m afraid that she might be putting more pressure on the other leg and have the same thing happen on the other leg also.
CAVANAUGH: Deborah, what a problem.
DR. ALLEN: Good grief. Yeah, I know.
CAVANAUGH: Any ideas?
DR. ALLEN: Well, how wonderful that you’re taking so much care of that kitty. I think that’s really nice of you. It sounds like it’s going to be a job for, you know, somebody who does custom – custom-made protective devices and I would imagine most veterinary surgeons would have some access to people who do that. Michelle, do you have any better ideas?
DR. METCALF: I would – it sounds like unless you’re – you’re always going to have pressure sores there unless you do have some sort of a like a bandage in place or even like a small – a doughnut type thing in place, and that does sound like – If you’re dealing with a veterinary surgeon, I would imagine that they would be able to help you with the bandaging material for something like that.
CAVANAUGH: That’s just an amazing thing. Deborah, thank you so much for the call, and we wish you good luck with that. Scott is calling us from San Diego. Good morning, Scott. Welcome to These Days.
SCOTT (Caller, San Diego): Good morning. Thanks for taking my call.
SCOTT: I just wanted to underscore what you said earlier about the watching the cat’s output. And we’ve also found it very helpful to watch the cat’s input, not only food but also water, because if the cat starts drinking more water there may be an indication that something’s, you know, not so good. We were actually – that’s enabled us to find an old cat that had diabetes and maintain him successfully for six or seven years, giving him insulin shots just on the basis of watching inputs and outputs.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you. Scott, thank you for that call. And, Michelle, I have known several people who have – whose cats have developed diabetes as they got older. How common is that?
DR. METCALF: Unfortunately, a lot of our indoor kitties tend to be overweight, which predisposes them to things like diabetes. And so it’s not an uncommon thing for us anymore to see things like that. And a lot of times, for some of our owners that come in, you know, they are the owners that they’re in once a year and as their cats start to age, they start doing that routine lab work. We’ve picked it up on the lab work where they haven’t actually seen anything different at home, which has enabled us to really get a step up on those types of things as well.
CAVANAUGH: And when you do it that way, can you manage diabetes in a cat the way you can sometimes in a human being? Just by diet? Or does it always require insulin?
DR. METCALF: Generally, to start with, a lot of times we’ll have to use insulin but we do a dietary change with it and there are a lot of cats that will actually go back to being normal and they’ll be able to come off of their insulin. Some of those kitties who I’ve just been able to keep them on the diet and they’ve done great. Some of them, after a year or two, come back out and then they have to go back on the insulin.
DR. ALLEN: What percentage are you getting on your remissions with your diabetes?
DR. METCALF: Gosh, I’m not sure that I actually have a…
DR. ALLEN: Okay.
DR. METCALF: …percentage in mind on something like that.
DR. ALLEN: I think they – they’re saying like if you’re really good with this proper diabetic diet and you catch it very, very early, you get about 30%...
DR. ALLEN: …that will not be diabetic.
CAVANAUGH: That’s interesting.
DR. ALLEN: So it’s worth picking it up and it’s worth talking to your doctor about diabetic diets.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s take one more call. Sheri’s calling from Escondido. Good morning, Sheri. Welcome to These Days.
SHERI (Caller, Escondido): Good morning, ladies, and thank you for taking my call.
CAVANAUGH: You’re welcome.
SHERI: I have a 9-year-old shelter cat that I moved from Bonita area to Escondido area and once I moved up here—he was about 5 when I moved—and he started sneezing and he sneezes, oh, maybe sometimes three, four times a day, but he’ll sneeze anywhere from 8 to 12 times right in a row.
SHERI: Yeah, and I have these little speckles all over my walls.
DR. ALLEN: Uh-oh. What color speckles, if that’s not too gross.
SHERI: He is – Well, I call him the snot-slinger. Sorry.
CAVANAUGH: Sheri, thank you. Okay, so this cat is having sneezing fits three or four times a day. Does it have anything, do you think, to do with this move that Sheri’s talking about?
DR. ALLEN: Well, it certainly might do. It may just be a coincidence but certainly there are probably different things flying through the air, you know, when the wind blows in from the desert or other directions. It may be different up North County than there is in South County. Maybe it’s a better class of pollen up there, I don’t know. But so certainly there could be an allergy underlying it, then that’s a possibility. It may just be a coincidence. It may be that your kitty had a virus. Sometimes herpes virus is a upper respiratory virus that lies dormant when you’re not stressed, and maybe the stress of being moved brought that out and that’s why, you know, we’ve got all this snot – we call them chronic schnorkers, these cats, and they just have very sort of noisy, snotty breathing. So there’s a few things it could be. Michelle might have some other ideas on what could be going on.
DR. METCALF: Is this something where your kitty’s doing this all the time? Like every day or…?
SHERI: In the wintertime more than in the summertime, and he’s indoors. He does not go outside.
DR. METCALF: Okay. If it’s something that’s going on on a more frequent basis, potentially even if you had something like a upper respiratory or allergies that started him off as an underlying process, it could be developing a chronic sinus problem over time. And they can actually start to change what are called the turbinates. The turbinates are like little, fine scrolls of tissue that are up in your sinuses, meant to catch all those things that we normally inhale on a daily basis and when those start to change and they aren’t there to catch all those things, then you can start to have bacterial type infections. And so that’s something that I would be a little concerned about. Polyps, potentially, can even cause something like that. They can get little polyps in the – up in their sinuses that can create an issue. That’s something that it would actually be probably taking a trip in to your veterinarian’s office and seeing if there’s something else that you can go forward with.
CAVANAUGH: I – We are out of time. I – But I think we have given people an awful lot of good reasons to take their cats to the vet.
DR. ALLEN: I certainly hope so.
CAVANAUGH: Dr. Katy Allen of Canterbury Tails Veterinary Services, thank you.
DR. ALLEN: Oh, my pleasure, as always.
CAVANAUGH: And Dr. Michelle Metcalf of Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center, thanks for being – coming in.
DR. METCALF: Oh, thank you for having me.
CAVANAUGH: And if we couldn’t answer your question on the phone or if you’d like to comment, please go online, KPBS.org/thesedays. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.