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Catseye Cattery Friend and Vet, Martha, Tells us About her Exciting new Adventure!

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2017 at 4:54 pm

The life of a Home Visit Vet

I grew up with an idea of what veterinary work was like based on James Herriot’s books. I had a picture in my mind of sipping tea in lovely family homes while tending to their beloved pets, and making long-lasting relationships with all involved.

Of course, after going through vet school my eyes were opened to modern medicine and the excitement that brings. It is fast paced, dynamic and a real buzz. There is no end to what we can do for our animal friends, both medically and surgically. I began to see myself as someone from ER or Grey’s Anatomy, running around a state-of-the-art hospital yelling ‘STAT’ and being the only doctor in the western hemisphere who could possibly save little Fluffy (possibly while other ridiculously good-looking doctors swoon over me, if the aforementioned TV shows are anything to go by).

Starting practice gave me moments from each of these worlds (minus the swooning). I spent eight very rewarding years working in clinics, with the occasional home visit. Unfortunately, in clinic life home visits usually mean a pet needs to be put to sleep. In addition, to arrange a home visit a vet is required to cover the clinic hours while another goes out to the visit, so running the clinic becomes increasingly difficult if home visits are offered regularly for more routine affairs.

And then came Pawsquad! When I first came into contact with the team they explained the service they had created: each vet gets to run their own mobile clinic in their area. They help you get kitted up and find you willing customers, and days could be spent driving around visiting pets and people in their own homes, getting to spend as long as I liked with each one.

They also explained how, with the help of a great app and several exciting techy solutions, running the service would be very straightforward. Clients contact me via a direct messaging service through the app and store their pet’s details, see my calendar and even book themselves in for appointments with me. For the not-so-techy people I can be reached by e-mail or even the good old-fashioned phone.

At first I was nervous without the security of the clinic walls, wonderful nurses, receptionists and other vets to help in tricky situations. How would I manage on my own?!

Well, I have been up and running for three months now, and I absolutely love it. With the Pawsquad team behind me, any fears I had of going it alone proved very much unfounded; they are with me every step of the way. It really is wonderful to be able to see animals completely relaxed in their own environment; it is also lovely seeing the relief in the owners, having avoided the dreaded car journey with their pet (especially cats!).

I like to enter a house and sit and let the cats come and explore me and my vet bag in their own time. Most cats cannot resist coming to find out what I have in there. When they are comfortable with me being around, I will start to see how they feel about this new stranger conducting a veterinary examination on them. Most are pretty obliging at this point, as long as they can have a good sniff of all the equipment first. This also gives me plenty of time to chat to the owners about all aspects of the animal’s life.

Of course there is a limit to what I can do in the home. Much as I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I can achieve (including taking blood samples from cats on their owner’s knees!), I am not going to start operating on Fluffy on your coffee table! For this I have my lovely partner practice within Edinburgh where I can send patients who need surgery, hospitalisation or diagnostics such as x-rays. Unlike James Herriot, I also have a great emergency hospital which provides out-of-hours care for my patients. I always enjoyed Herriot’s stories of being awakened at 3am to drive out into the freezing Yorkshire Dales to see a cow, but was not overly enthused by this prospect in my own professional life! This service also means that if your pet does need emergency treatment in the night, it will be carried out at a fully equipped hospital, and you can be sure you will have a well-rested vet with you for all other needs.

So I am spending my days mostly on people’s floors being climbed on by their curious cats and waggy dogs, and finding it fascinating, rewarding and very touching. It is always lovely to see how animals are often at the absolute centre of people’s lives; they certainly always have been for me!

Check-Out Martha’s site at Pawsquad Vets

Filed under: Cat Care, Our Cattery Vet — Tags: — Michael

Summertime Cat Care from Expert Vet Mike Hall

This entry was posted on Monday, July 4th, 2016 at 6:08 pm

“Summertime, and the living is easy…” apparently, although as I write this I can hear the rain hitting the windows. We all love the Summer – warmer weather, the chance to be outdoors, longer evenings, a chance for holidays and time away from work….

Summer is also usually a good season for our pet cats – whether it’s indoor cats following the sun’s rays around inside the home, or outdoor cats on the prowl in the garden or thick undergrowth. Most cats will tend to be a bit more active during the Summer months – we see this when many cats tip the scales at lower body weight than during the Winter months.

But the Summer months can also pose some problems to cats that all cat owners should consider.

Fleas: Most cat owners are now aware that fleas can be an all year round parasite challenge – but that challenge is at its greatest during the Summer months. Higher numbers of cats spending time outdoors in better weather, plus the abundance of wildlife that can carry fleas mean that your outdoor puss is more likely to come into contact with this pesky parasite. Also, the flea lifecycle speeds up in response to warmth and humidity, so this accelerates the growth in flea numbers. One flea on your cat can lay >200 eggs. These drop off, develop and hatch in amongst carpets and furnishings, and then emerge as new adult fleas to jump back onto your cat – or even yourself. In this way a very small flea challenge can lead to an indoor infestation! It’s essential to use an effective flea treatment – so that rules out flea powders – and your vet can provide the one best suited to your cat and you.

Ticks: are becoming much more prevalent in central Scotland than they ever were, and that’s due to change in climate – it’s warmer and more humid than ever before. Ticks lie in wait on grass or bracken or heather and hop onto unsuspecting passers by. They are predominantly a parasite of sheep, deer or cattle but will happily attach onto and feed from cats, dogs, rabbits, people(!) – they are fairly undiscerning! Once attached they feed by sucking blood from their host, but they can also pass on disease. The best known is Lyme’s Disease, which can make people, dogs and cats very unwell and is difficult both to diagnose and to treat. Prevention is better than cure, so if you live – or are visiting – a “tick area” then you should treat your cat with a preventative. These come in form of sprays, collars or tablets and again your vety will advise you what will suit your cat best.

Bee and Wasp stings: May cats find the buzzing insects just too tempting and may get more than they bargained for. Cats do get stung and react in different ways – some will develop a tender swelling at the site, others can even develop a fullblown anaphylactic shock, so it’s important to be aware. If you suspect your cat has been stung adopt the maxim – if in doubt – check it out and have your vet examine and treat accordingly. If you witness the stinging episode you can employ some home first aid – the antidote to a wasp sting is vinegar, and to a bee sting is bicarbonate of soda (but nowadays how many folk have this among their baking ingredients??).

Sunburn: I saw another puss yesterday with damage to the margins of its ears – this was due to sunburn.  The ear edges were red, crusty and tender. We normally associate this with white cats but this poor guy – called Lucky(!) – was ginger and white, but half of his ear areas were white, and these had become damaged by the sun. So if your cat has white ears, it is wise to apply some high factor sunblock before they go outdoors each day during the Summer.

Fights: better night time weather increases the numbers of cats outdoors which in turn increases the risk of cat fights, so check your cat over daily when they return from their outdoor adventures.

Barbeques:- one of my own favourite bits about Summer. There can often be scraps left after or around a Barbie, and we have seen some cats presented because they have eaten bones – spare ribs can stick in the throat, or chicken bones can get stuck in the mouth! Take care to keep all BBQ foods out of reach of your cats.

Overheating: This is a much more common problem with dogs, but any cat in a car on a hot day is at risk of overheating – with potentially fatal consequences! If the temperature outside a car reaches 20 degrees then that inside the car can easily reach 40 degrees when the engine and air con is switched off. So take care, and don’t leave them there!!

Wandering: Cats are naturally curious and are at risk of wandering, or of being shut in neighbours’ garages or sheds. Your best chance of having him/her returned safely is to make sure they have a Microchip identity – and that your address details are up to date!

Many of these topics can be dealt with by a visit to your vet, when a health check and all parasite risks can be covered. Then we can all enjoy the long, hot Summer!

Mike Hall is Vet and Partner at BRAID VETS EDINBURGH

Filed under: Cat Care, Our Cattery Vet — Tags: — Michael

Looking After your Senior Cat By Vet Martha Murphy

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Considerations in Older Cats By Vet Martha Murphy of  The Veterinary Cat Clinic, Edinburgh

Considerations in Older Cats
Intro
It may seem far in the future when we get a new kitten, but the time soon comes around where we start to notice that our cats seem to have aged a little, and are not the spritely little things that they once were. Although the kitten phase is great fun, the more mature years can also be very rewarding. By this time, a strong bond has usually developed between the cat and its owners, and they are just as much part of the family as their human counterparts.
Fortunately, there is now a lot more known about the problems that our ’senior kitizens’ face, and consequently a lot we can do to help them live in comfort and contentment in their golden years.

Mobility
This is hugely important. Arthritis is a very common problem in older cats, and often goes unnoticed. Some studies have shown that the start of arthritic changes is seen in significant numbers of cats as young as 6 years old.
So why doesn’t it always get spotted? Unfortunately for us loving owners and vets, cats have a tendency to try to hide pain, as it is in their nature to not appear to be weak or compromised.
As they get older, and their joints get a little stiffer and aches and pains start to develop, cats will gradually stop various activities that no longer feel manageable to them. Many owners on first questioning of their cat’s mobility and comfort levels will say it is excellent. It is only on further questioning – does (s)he still jump up onto all the places (s)he used to? Does (s)he still climb trees? Does (s)he play as much? – that a different picture is revealed. These changes can appear very subtly at first, especially if you are around the cat every day.
There are a lot of ways to help cats who aren’t as agile as they used to be, starting with small changes around the house. This can include
- steps or an improvised version for them to reach all the higher places where they enjoy spending time. Cats get a great deal of security from being up high;
- raising food and water bowls to standing height so they no longer have to crouch to eat, which puts pressure on their elbows. This can easily be done by placing the bowl on top of an old ice-cream tub or the like;
- providing heated bedding especially in the winter. Cats, like humans, are often worse affected in the damp, colder months.

Another thing we can do is give them supplements or medications to help keep the joints supple, and free from aches and pains. There is now a wide variety of these, many of which are in easy to administer formats. If you think your cat may benefit from something like this, it is a great idea to get them checked with your vet. Remember, they may not be showing signs that you might identify as signs of pain; but if you think carefully and compare their activities now to those of a few years ago, you might realise that there has been a change.
One of the great bugbear sentences uttered to vets is, “Oh he’s not in any pain; he’s just stiff”, stated as a little old cat hobbles across the consultation table. It always makes me wonder what the owner thinks is making him stiff, if not aching joints and sore muscles!

Dental Care
Many cats as they get older will develop varying degrees of dental disease. They are less handy with the Colgate than humans, so after ten years or so of not brushing and flossing this is not surprising. Dental problems vary from a mild build-up of plaque to large cavity-like lesions, eroded roots, infections and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). This can be easily rectified with some dental treatment from your vet, which although usually involves a general anaesthetic and a morning at the clinic, can make a huge difference to their quality of life, and prevent further diseases from occurring. There is a link between dental disease and kidney disease in cats, due to the introduction of oral bacteria into the bloodstream, which can then ’seed’ on the kidneys (or other organs) causing kidney and bladder infections.
A level of prevention can be provided by feeding one of the specialist dental diets, it does not have to be fed as the sole food, but even adding a little of it to your cat’s regular diet can help.

Common illnesses
The most common presenting complaints of older cats are: changes in weight, appetite and thirst. Of course, many different diseases can affect these things but our top three in senior cats are:
- Kidney disease
- Diabetes
- Hyperthyroidism.
These illnesses can present in a variety of ways, but invariably affect the appetite, thirst or weight of the cat. They are all manageable and best caught early. They can usually be diagnosed with an examination and a simple blood test. So if you have noticed any changes in these aspects of your cat, a check-up is recommended.
Unfortunately, as animals get older, when signs of illness occur, cancer is something that moves up in the list of likely possibilities. It is a word that often brings with it a lot of fear and upset, but as with human medicine, there have been great advances in cancer treatment in animals too. As with other medical issues, the chances of successful treatment are better when it is caught in the early stages.

Euthanasia
A sad topic, but an important one for older cats. It can often make the process easier when the day comes if some consideration has been given to the matter prior to the event; of course this is not always possible in acute situations, but is something that can be thoughtfully planned for older cats with long-term illnesses.
Many vets will come to your house for this, so you don’t have to face other people at the clinic, and your cat can be relaxed as possible in its own environment. They will usually require some notice to arrange this as cover must be ensured for the clinic as well.
There is also the consideration of what your wishes are for the cat after (s)he has passed away. Some people have a favourite spot in the garden where they wish to bury them, while for others this is undesirable or unfeasible. In this case, your vet will be happy to assist with arrangements. Pets are normally sent to a specialised pet crematorium. There are options to have the ashes returned to you, although this does incur a greater cost.
It can be very stressful, especially if the euthanasia was unexpected, to try to make all of these decisions on the day, so it is a good idea to think it over at a non-emotional time, and have an idea of what you would like to happen.

Conclusion
As cats get older, their needs change, and it becomes even more important to monitor their health. Six-monthly or annual veterinary check-ups are a great way to pick up on subtle changes in weight, early signs of disease, and also to discuss prevention.
With the right care, you can keep your feline friends around for many years, and keep them feeling as good as they possibly can at each stage of life, so you can enjoy those years to the fullest together

About the Author.

Martha graduated in 2008 from Edinburgh Vet School. She initially worked in a busy small animal practice in Yorkshire before gaining a variety of experience working as a locum in practices around the UK. She joined The Cat Clinic team in 2010, initially working part-time while she completed the University of Sydney’s post graduate distance learning course in feline medicine before becoming a full time member of the team. Martha has been a cat owner since she was born, and dreamed of being a feline vet since she was a toddler. She is intrigued by all things cat, & is self-confessed “cat crazy”! She currently has an adopted rescue cat named “Alfie” who was born deaf, which gives him some curious personality quirks such as staring very intently at people, and chasing the noisy hoover!

Filed under: Cat Care, Our Cattery Vet — Tags: — Michael

International Pet Transport Advice from Braid Vets Mike Hall

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Thanks to Mike Hall from BRAID VETS EDINBURGH

International pets

The World is a shrinking place. Brits travel all over on holidays, or for work, and more and more people want to take their pets with them. Vets in practice are now frequently asked to assist with pet travel. However, just as with the human population, there are certain disease risks associated with travel that have to be addressed. In the UK we pride ourselves on being Rabies-free and, believe me, that’s the way we want to stay! We have one big advantage over our fellow Europeans – we are an island, so we have a very effective barrier to keep Rabies out – and a number of other diseases too.

Historically, any animal entering the UK had to spend six months in quarantine, to ensure that it was not harboring Rabies. Only after six disease-free months could the animal then settle in our country.

Since 2001 however, Pet Passports have been available for dogs, cats and ferrets(!). These passports enable animals to travel between participating EU countries without the quarantine requirement, providing that certain criteria are met.

  • The pet must have a Microchip. This enables it to be identified and related to its paperwork.
  • The pet must then receive a Rabies vaccine – a single injection of vaccine, given painlessly under the scruff of the neck, conferring protection that lasts for up to three years.
  • A passport can then be completed, listing the owner’s details, the animal’s details, the microchip details, and the rabies vaccine details. Once a pet has a passport it can be updated, with further Rabies vaccinations being recorded in it. This way, one passport can last the lifetime of the pet.
  • For European travel there is a minimum 21day delay after Rabies vaccination before the pet can travel.
  • Travel can then be arranged, by road through the Channel Tunnel, by sea – certain Ferry companies, or by air – certain airlines.
  • When returning to the UK, pets must have treatment against Tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis. This must be given by a vet, 24 to 120 hours prior to entering the UK, and the treatment needs to be recorded on the pet’s passport. This is a parasite that is currently not present in the UK – and is another disease we definitely do not want!

Providing these requirements are met, pet cats and dogs can now travel freely with their owners throughout the majority of EU countries. Pets can enjoy the foreign holiday with their owners, rather than perhaps being booked into a very plush cattery in the gorgeous East Lothian countryside!

It all seems very simple and straightforward. It can be, but there are other considerations to be made. The Pet Passport takes account of only two diseases – Rabies and Tapeworm. It does not consider the fact that pets taken abroad will be potentially exposed to a number of parasites and diseases that they would not meet at home. For instance, hot Mediterranean climates will harbor mosquitoes, and biting insects such as ticks, that may carry a number of potentially serious diseases.

When the Pet Passport was first launched, it included a requirement that pets were also treated against Ticks prior to re-entering the UK. This requirement was dropped however, in 2012. Up until this time there was also a requirement for a Rabies blood test to be carried out. The test was done 3-4 weeks after the Rabies vaccination, and the level of antibodies was measured, to assess whether the pet was protected or not. On January 1st 2012 both requirements were dropped.

A number of vets believe that these moves are not in the nation’s best interests. The Rabies bloodtests would occasionally show that a pet had not responded to the vaccine and therefore was not protected. In these cases, a second dose of vaccine was give]n, followed by a second bloodtest. If the pet “failed” again then it was deemed ineligible for a Passport.

There are certain ticks in mainland Europe that we do not have in the UK, and they can carry diseases that will affect not only pets, but livestock, and people too. We don’t want these ticks to bring disease into the UK so, whilst it is not an essential part of the Pet Passport legislation, vets strongly advise that pet dogs and cats travelling to mainland Europe are treated with appropriate insecticides that will prevent Tick infestation.

It is also possible to transport our pets farther afield than the EU. Pet Passports will not be sufficient, and every country will set its own import requirements. If you are considering long distance travel for your pet then I would highly recommend that you speak to your vet well in advance so that she/he can guide you through the minefield that is Pet Export. The procedure may need to start as far away as six months prior to the travel date, with bloodtests or even faecal tests required, and may involve some quarantine time on arrival, so do not consider it lightly.

Perhaps, indeed, if your upcoming longhaul foreign work journey is not for good, that cosy cattery in East Lothian is sounding even more attractive!

Filed under: Cat Care, Our Cattery Vet — Tags: — Michael

Chris Monk (our Cattery Vet)

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 12th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Dunedin Vets, based in Tranent have been Catseye Cattery’s vet since it opened.

In the unlikely event that your cat is taken ill during his or her stay we are on hand to take care of any veterinary care he or she may need.

We believe in providing the highest standard of veterinary care and customer service.

We have the necessary expertise and facilities to cover almost any eventuality.

Visit www.dunedinvets.co.uk for more about us.

We will liaise with your usual vet to ensure that there is continuity of care for any patient and ensure that Michael and Helen are fully informed of any medication and special care your cat may need during the rest of his or her stay at the cattery.

Chris Monk BVMS MRCVS

Filed under: Our Cattery Vet — Tags: — Michael

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