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by Elizabeth Arguelles December 31, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

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This is a sponsored post by Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Siamese cats are one of the most popular breeds of cat in the United States. Cat fanciers and average feline owners love their sleek elegance and charming vocals. In this article, we’ll discuss the distinct features, personality, and health issues of the breed.

How did Siamese cats first come to the West?

As the name suggests, Siamese cats come from Southeast Asia, more specifically from the ancient kingdom of Siam (located in present-day Thailand).

Siamese cats first came to England in 1871, making an appearance at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in London. They arrived in the United States in grand style eight years later. The first “American” Siamese was a gift that the U.S. Consul in Bangkok sent to the wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes.

What do Siamese cats look like?

Siamese cats have perhaps the most distinctive physical characteristics of any breed of feline, making them easily identifiable to even the casual cat lover.

The most obvious “Siamese” feature is its point coloration. Like other felines with pointed patterns, Siamese have pale torsos (usually off-white, light gray or yellowish-brown) and darker fur on their faces, ears, legs and tails. Originally, the Siamese’s darker fur came in only four different colors: seal (an extremely dark brown), blue (a cool gray), chocolate (a lighter brown) and lilac (a pale, warm gray). Though the major U.S. cat registry still considers these the only “true” Siamese colors, crossbreeding with other types of cats has resulted in cats with Siamese features and new colors like red and cream, tabby and tortoise-shell points.

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by Elizabeth Arguelles December 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm 17 Comments

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by  Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. It does not represent the views of Reston Now. 

In our last article, we discussed what to do with stray cats that you encounter in your neighborhood.

This week, we’ll tackle an issue that is related but that presents very different challenges: how to help feral cats living near your house.

What is a feral cat?

As we mentioned in a previous article, feral cats are felines who have been born and raised in the wild.

Unlike strays (cats that at one time had human owners), feral kitties have had little to no previous contact with humans. Because of this, you should always approach ferals with caution and avoid handling.

What should you do if you encounter a feral cat in your neighborhood?

Before doing anything, make sure that the feline is indeed feral and not lost or a stray. In our last article, we discussed a variety of ways to determine whether a kitty already has a home or has grown up around people. If you suspect that the cat in question might be domesticated, take the proper steps to ensure that it is either returned to its owners or brought to a shelter.

Once you have ascertained that the cat does not have and has not had a human owner, the next step is to take it immediately to a vet for sterilization and a rabies shot. As we have mentioned in past articles, the best way to reduce the number of euthanasias performed at clinics and shelters around the country is to limit the number of unwanted kittens born.

Getting a feral cat to the veterinarian is not an easy process, given that such felines are not accustomed to human contact. Fortunately, animal welfare organizations like Alley Cat Allies and the ASPCA have developed Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) protocols that are designed to humanely capture feral kitties, get them to the vet without putting them or any humans in danger, and return them to the wild. For more information about how to trap feral cats, the most effective equipment to use, and the best way to bait the traps, please visit AlleyCat.org or ASPCA.org (more…)

by Elizabeth Arguelles December 4, 2015 at 1:30 pm 20 Comments

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. It does not represent the opinion of Reston Now.

As cat lovers, our care and concern for felines is rarely limited to the ones who share our houses. When we find stray kitties roaming the neighborhood, we often want to do something to ensure that those cats are fed, receive proper medical care and don’t end up at a shelter.

Unfortunately, this is not always easy or straightforward. Dealing responsibly with these cats takes compassion, but it also requires commitment and good judgment. In this article, we’ll discuss what to do with potential stray cats in your neighborhood.

Determine whether the cat has an owner

Though it might be natural to assume that cats roaming the streets are homeless, many are simply outdoor kitties living nearby or felines from other neighborhoods who have gotten lost. If you find a cat like this, the hope is that you’ll be able to reunite them with their owner. Here are some tips to help establish if the kitty has an owner already:

  • Look for a collar. This is probably the most obvious sign that a kitty has a home.
  • Scan for a microchip. A less visible but equally definitive way to identify an unknown feline is to have vet check for a microchip. If the cat has one, the chip should give you the information you need to track down its owners.
  • Check the cat’s appearance/condition. Cats that live indoors with humans tend to look groomed and better fed than some of their fellow outdoor felines. While this is not always the case, it can be an easy visual to help you establish whether you are dealing with an outdoor cat or an indoor cat that’s lost. It is important to note, however, that lost cats will sometimes actually appear more disheveled, as they might respond to the increased stress by not grooming.
  • Note the cat’s demeanor/behavior. Cats with owners are generally much friendlier and more comfortable around people. They might even try to come into your house to get out of the elements. Again though it’s important to note this is not always the case. Some very friendly indoor cats could be scared or stressed and may not react the same way to strangers.
  • See if the cat has been spayed or neutered. Though not all “fixed” cats have a home, spaying or neutering does indicate that the kitty has had previous contact with people. It can also give you a better idea of how far the feline is from its usual residence. Females and neutered males rarely roam too far outside their neighborhood, while intact male cats tend to travel a lot more.
  • Ask around the neighborhood. If the cat has a family, its parents will probably be looking for it. Checking with your neighbors might help you connect with the family very quickly.
  • Check with local shelters and veterinary clinics. Posting signs in places where cat people congregate is another good way to search for owners of lost felines.

Get the cat spayed/neutered

If you determine that the kitty does not have a home, the next step is to get it spayed or neutered. This is extremely important, regardless of what you decide to do with the cat in the long term.

Free-roaming felines are responsible for the majority of kittens born in the U.S. every year, and many of the millions of euthanasias performed at shelters around the country could have been prevented by sterilization. Neutering male cats also curbs aggressive behavior and reduces injuries and deaths caused by fights with other cats.

The approaches to sterilizing stray cats (felines that have been lost or abandoned) and feral cats (the offspring of stray or other feral cats) are a bit different. Because the former are used to being around people, they are usually easier to get to the vet. The latter, however, are generally not comfortable around humans, so humane trapping mechanisms are necessary to get them to a vet or shelter for sterilization. (more…)

by Elizabeth Arguelles November 20, 2015 at 11:30 am 0

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Lake Anne Plaza’s Just Cats Clinic. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Thanks to their distinctively adorable appearance and friendly temperament, Ragdoll cats have become a sought-after breed. Known for going limp or turning into a “ragdoll” when picked up, Ragdolls are big, affectionate and cuddly sweethearts. It’s no wonder they are such a fan favorite!

What do Ragdolls look like?

"Flame point Ragdoll" by Cássia Afini/Creative Commons With their long, luxurious fur and distinctive coloring, Ragdolls are beautiful cats. Known as a “pointed” breed, Ragdolls are lighter in color on their bodies than their faces, legs, tails and ears (the areas known as the points). Probably the best known pointed breed is the Siamese, and indeed, Ragdolls look somewhat similar. Just like the Siamese, Ragdolls also usually have blue eyes even as adults.

Though all purebred Ragdolls are considered pointed, there is some variation in the color and pattern of their coats. Generally speaking, Ragdoll coats come in four distinct patterns. They can be bi-color, where the torso is white and the “mask” on the face has a notable “V” shape; mitted, where white fur on the paws makes the cat appear to be wearing mittens; and color point, with no white fur anywhere on the body. Most cats of this breed get full color definition in their coats by the age of two.

Ragdolls have moderately long fur with little undercoat, which means that their coats are less likely to mat or shed. Nonetheless, their fur should be combed with a steel comb on a regular basis to remove any lose hairs or tangles.

As was mentioned above, Ragdolls are also generally very large. Adult males will tip the scales at approximately 15-20 pounds at full maturity, while females will weigh between 10-15 pounds. It takes a while for Ragdolls to reach these sizes, though. They usually keep growing until the age of four.

What kind of personality does a Ragdoll have?

Ragdolls are considered “puppy-like” in nature because of their laid-back and sweet personalities. They adapt well to different situations and don’t generally have trouble fitting in with all types of families. Ragdolls are extremely affectionate and make great indoor cats because they like to be around their human parents so much. They bond so well with their owners, in fact, that they often follow their humans around and run to greet them at the door when they come home. Unsurprisingly, Ragdolls are good for families with children, as they are very sweet and gentle.

Ragdolls are also extremely playful. They usually retain their kitten-like behaviors well into adulthood. For example, Ragdolls love a good game of fetch. Fortunately for their owners, though, these giant felines tend to keep their claws in when horsing around! They are generally not jumpers, preferring the floor to higher vantage points.

What health issues do Ragdolls have?

Like many purebred cats that come from shallower gene pools, Ragdolls tend to be more susceptible to certain maladies. Some of the most common include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and calcium oxalate bladder stones.

HCM: The most common heart disease affecting cats, HCM is a progressive disease that can ultimately result in heart failure. Fortunately, owners can preemptively test for the specific mutation associated with this disease. So if you decide to get a Ragdoll, it is wise to consult your veterinarian about testing services as soon as the new cat moves into your house.

Calcium oxalate bladder stones: One of the two most common types of bladder stones affecting cats, these are rock-like deposits of minerals, crystals and organic materials that accumulate in the bladder. If they grow too large, they may rub against a cat’s bladder walls and cause inflammation.

Ragdolls can make a great addition to any home, but the health risks they face are very real and can require a lot of long-term care. So if you are planning to adopt one of these beautiful, friendly and playful cats, be sure to talk to your vet first about what owning a Ragdoll can entail.

Photo: “Flame point Ragdoll” by Cássia Afini/Flickr, Creative Commons

by Elizabeth Arguelles November 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm 0

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This is a sponsored post by Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now. 

Just like humans, cats can suffer from a variety of heart conditions ranging in severity from benign to life threatening. One of the most common conditions found in cats are heart murmurs. Not all heart murmurs are severe, but it’s important to have your cat evaluated by your veterinarian to determine the best treatment plan for your cat’s particular condition.

What is a heart murmur?

 A heart murmur occurs when the blood flow in the heart becomes turbulent. It can be heard when a stethoscope is placed near the heart by your veterinarian. Many heart murmurs are benign, but not always and can indicate further heart disease or structural issues.

Many kittens display a murmur around the age of 6-8 weeks but then “outgrow” within a few months. Adult cats can also get intermittent heart murmurs when their stress levels are elevated. Once the feline relaxes again, the condition disappears.

What are the different types of heart murmurs?

There are three broad categories of murmurs: systolic, diastolic and continuous. Systolic murmurs occur when the heart muscle contracts, whereas diastolic murmurs happen when the heart muscle relaxes between beats. Continuous murmurs persist throughout the cardiac cycle.

Heart murmurs are then further classified according to several other characteristics, such as their location and loudness. With regard to the latter, they are graded on the following scale:

  • Grade I – The murmur is barely audible and may only be heard intermittently. It is usually in one location in the chest.
  • Grade II – The murmur is soft but can be heard easily with a stethoscope.
  • Grade III – The loudness is at an intermediate level. Most murmurs that result from the mechanics of blood circulation are at least Grade III.
  • Grade IV – This is a loud murmur that radiates widely and can be heard everywhere that the heartbeat is audible. It can also be felt when the chest is touched in the area of the heart. In cardiac terms, this is called a “thrill.”
  • Grade V – The murmur is very loud but still only audible with a stethoscope. The vibration is strong enough to be felt through the cat’s chest wall.

The loudness of the murmur reflects the amount of turbulence that is present in the heart, but it is important to note that it does not always directly correlate with the severity of any underlying diseases.

What are the symptoms of heart murmurs?
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by Elizabeth Arguelles October 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm 0

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This is a sponsored post by Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Constipation is one of the most common health issues associated with a cat’s digestive system. Though it usually doesn’t cause lasting harm, constipation is uncomfortable and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It can also be a symptom of more serious underlying health issues.

If left untreated, constipation can even turn into obstipation, a condition in which the cat loses the ability to empty its colon on its own. It’s important to recognize the signs and understand the causes so you and your veterinarian can address your cat’s constipation and provide the best treatment plan.

What causes constipation?

Constipation happens when dry, hardened stool collects in a cat’s rectum and blocks the material behind it from exiting. It is more often seen in middle-aged or older cats, but younger felines can also get it. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Hairballs (especially in longhaired cats)
  • Pelvic injuries that result in a narrowed pelvic canal
  • Ingestion of foreign bodies
  • Obesity
  • Unidentified causes
  • Megacolon
  • Pain medications such as opioids

Megacolon is a term used to describe dilated and weak colon. It is both a cause and result of constipation. When a cat’s colon becomes distended with dry, hardened fecal matter over a longer period of time, the organ’s muscles weaken and its ability to contract reduces. This tends to lead to more constipation in the future.

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by Elizabeth Arguelles October 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm 1 Comment

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This is a sponsored post by Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne. 

Cats are famous for their fastidious grooming rituals, and no cat owner would be surprised to learn that felines spend between 30 and 50 percent of their day cleaning their fur and paws.

In the vast majority of cases, grooming is a sign of a healthy cat and a completely normal activity.  However, kitties do sometimes overdo it, leading to bald patches or a lesion on the skin under the fur. This behavior is not normal and can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

What causes over-grooming?

Over-grooming is usually caused by medical or psychological issues.

What are the medical issues that cause over-grooming?

Because they have long, sharp “fingernails” and short, stubby “fingers,” cats deal with itching and subdermal pain differently than humans do. Their claws are good for dealing with everyday itches, but they will eventually scratch up the skin if used too frequently or with too much force. So a cat’s tongue is often used to treat more chronic itching, and that can lead to over-grooming. Some common causes of chronic itchiness include:

Parasites: Fleas (the most common skin parasite) are known for causing itching and discomfort in cats. If you suspect that your kitty might have fleas, make sure to check your cat’s tail and back legs as your feline will tend to over-groom those spots when trying to get rid of the tiny insects. Other parasites such as ticks and ringworm can also cause itchiness and lead to over-grooming.

Allergies: Just like humans, cats can be allergic to certain foods or environmental elements. Many of these can cause skin irritation and itchiness.

Dry winter skin: The lack of humidity in the colder months of the year can dry your kitty’s skin out and lead to chronic itching.

 Inadequate nutrition: This can also cause skin to become dry and flaky.

Humans often attempt to soothe subdermal pain by rubbing the skin over the affected area. Though the exact biophysical reasons why we do this are the subject of some debate, it is not unreasonable to think that other mammals (such as cats) try to alleviate pain via similar mechanisms (such as licking). If the pain does not subside relatively quickly, a kitty will tend to over-groom, eventually licking off the fur covering the affected area.

What are the psychological issues that cause over-grooming?

If you believe that your cat is over-grooming, the first step is to take it to your vet to check for any of the aforementioned medical causes. If you and your vet rule out medical causes and the behavior continues, then the cause might be psychological in nature. For example, your cat may be engaging in a stress-related compulsive behavior. Cats sometimes respond to changes in their living environment, such as a new pet, a baby or a move to a new house, by engaging in repetitive actions that decrease their stress levels.

Excessive grooming can also linger in response to a medical problem and can continue after the health issue resolves.

What should you do if your cat is over-grooming?

Regardless of whether the over-grooming is caused by medical or psychological issues, it’s important to discuss the symptoms with your veterinarian to figure out the best treatment plan for your cat.

The views in this column do not represent the opinion of Reston Now.

by Elizabeth Arguelles September 25, 2015 at 1:00 pm 1 Comment

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. It does not represent the opinion of Reston Now.

Maine Coon Cat/Courtesy Just CatsKnown for its intelligence and playful personality, the Maine Coon has become one of the most popular breeds of cat in America. They are considered the largest domesticated felines, growing up to 40 inches in length and weighing as much as 35 pounds.

Maine Coons are also renowned for their beauty.

Their silky flowing coats and long, bushy tails give them an elegant and regal look.

In this article, we will talk about some of the other things that distinguish Maine Coons as a breed. This is the first in a series of articles in which we will discuss a variety of cat breeds.

What do Maine Coons look like?

Maine Coon Cat/Courtesy Just CatsIn addition their size and fur, Maine Coons are marked by several other physical characteristics. Though technically either longhaired or medium-haired, Maine Coons generally have longer fur than other breeds. Their fur is shorter on the head and shoulders and longer on the stomach and flanks. Some Maine Coons have a ruff around their necks that resembles a lion’s mane.

The most distinctive features, however, are beautiful ear tufts and fur growing between the toes. The latter is thought to have evolved to allow Maine Coons to walk in the snow.

Interestingly, Maine Coons can have the colors associated with any other breed of cat.

Where do Maine Coons come from?

From Maine, of course! Unsurprisingly, the Maine Coon is the official cat of the state that gave it its name.

The breed’s origins before arriving in New England are much murkier. The most generally accepted theory is that the Maine Coon is descended from a cross between indigenous shorthaired domestic cats and longhaired breeds that arrived in the New World with English travelers.

What kind of personality does a Maine Coon have?

As was mentioned above, Maine Coons are gentle and friendly, making the “gentle giant” nickname especially fitting. These cats are also intelligent and playful, reminding many of dogs. They are a great fit for owners with children, multiple cats and other types of pets. (more…)

by Elizabeth Arguelles September 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm 0

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza.

As concerned and loving cat parents, every one of us hates to think of our beloved little ones experiencing pain. And if that happens, we want to be ready to help them successfully manage the discomfort. The problem is that felines are incredibly good at hiding pain. Evolutionarily, predators displaying any outward signs of pain are at a disadvantage in the wild so cats instinctually hide their symptoms.

Fortunately, veterinary medicine has advanced and we are better able to detect and understand pain in cats. This, in turn, has made pain management much easier and more feasible for cat parents. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the options available to you in the event that your cat is experiencing pain.

How can you tell if your cat is in pain?

Veterinarians use a standardized pain scale assessment to help determine if your cat is in pain and if so, what their pain level is. This assessment should be taken at every examination at your vet’s office as part of a preventive care plan to ensure your cat stays pain free and subtle signs are not missed.

The scale ranges from 0 to 4 with 0 being content and comfortable and 4 being severe pain. Cats at a stage 1 pain score are more difficult to assess in clinic since the signs are so subtle and frequently are more likely noticed by an owner. Symptoms include less interested or change in normal routine, or becoming withdrawn from surroundings. (more…)

by Elizabeth Arguelles August 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm 1 Comment

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza.

Picking the right cat to bring into your house is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The new kitty will become another member of your family for the subsequent 10 to 20 years. You will be responsible for its food, health and overall care for the rest of its life.

The problem, of course, is that there are so many different cats out there to choose from. Cats of different breeds, different ages and different personalities each mesh differently with different families and function well in different situations. In this article, we’ll discuss how to identify the type of kitty that is the best match for you and your family.

Should you get a kitten or adult cat?

One of the first things to consider is the age of the cat that you will adopt. A lot of this boils down to your individual lifestyle.

Tiger BabyYounger cats tend to be more energetic and require more attention and stimulation. Most kittens are curious, playful and often mischievous. They require careful supervision to keep them out of trouble. So if you are out long hours for work or travel often, a kitten may not be the best fit for you.

Adult cats require less supervision but definitely still require play and environmental stimulation like cat trees and access to windows. If you tend to be gone longer hours during the day, an adult cat may be a better option for you.

Senior cats can be a great fit for people who work from home or retirees. These cats need play, but do still need environmental stimulation to stay active. Additionally, you’ll want to think about the cost potentially associated with senior cat care, disease management, or end of life care. When you adopt a senior cat, you’re helping them live the rest of their lives in comfort and love —  and surely there’s no better reward than that.

What kind of personality should you look for?

Choosing the right cat personality is very important when you’re looking for a new furry family member. No two cats are exactly alike, even if they are from the same breed or come from the same litter. As a result, each one will react differently to living in a new household in a different way.

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by Elizabeth Arguelles August 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm 0

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. 

Though most cats take care of cleaning themselves, there are some simple things you can do to help keep your cat’s fur healthy, clean and free of tangles or mats.

Most cat breeds have smooth outer coats of “protective hairs” and a fine undercoat of soft hairs that give additional insulation. Some cats shed a lot of those outer hairs, while others lose relatively little.

But regardless of how much fur they shed, all felines benefit from regular brushing to remove loose hairs and dead skin cells. This process helps ensure that their coats stay clean and free of external parasites, and also distributes natural skin oils along the hair shafts.

Regular brushing has other benefits for both your kitty and the other residents of your home. For example, removing loose fur and dander will ensure that your cat swallows a lot less hair while grooming with its tongue. This can mean fewer hairballs coughed up on your carpets! Humans with mild cat allergies will also have a better living situation because daily brushing can help reduce the amount of allergens in the air.

How often should you brush your cat?

It is best to brush your cat’s coat every day to make sure that no tangles or clumps develop. Pay particular attention to the areas that your kitty has trouble reaching with its tongue (e.g. under the armpits and behind the ears) and where clumps tend to develop (e.g. the backs of the legs, the belly and the rump).

Regularly checking your cat’s coat and skin will also have the side benefit of improving your chances of detecting any unusual lumps, bumps or areas of sensitivity on your cat’s body at an early stage.

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by Elizabeth Arguelles July 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm 0

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. 

One of the most popular questions cat veterinarians hear is can my cat see color? Though for years it was widely believed that cats were color blind, recent research indicates cats have the ability to detect color. While our eyes are able to detect a broad range of different colors, cats view color on a much smaller spectrum.

Where does the ability to see colors come from?

The retina contains two types of cells that allow us (or our feline friends) to see: rods and cones. Rods signal to the brain when any light waves reach the retina, regardless of their color. Cones, on the other hand, fire when lights of specific wavelengths (i.e. different colors) hit the eye. Some cones signal when blue light comes in contact with the retina, others respond to red light and a third variety fires when green light is detected.

How do cat and human eyes perceive color differently?

Because space on the retina is limited, more rods necessarily mean less cones and vice versa. Because cats have evolved to hunt in darker environments, their eyes are packed with considerably more rods than cones. As a result, they can seemingly “see in the dark” and detect the slightest motion, but their perception of colors is relatively poor. One study indicated, for example, that felines can only see blues and grays, while another concluded that they are also able to detect yellows.

The relative lack of cones also makes cats less sensitive to changes in the brightness or vibrancy of a color. They may not be able to distinguish, for example, between light blue and dark blue.

Humans, on the other hand, have to be able to function in both low-light and bright environments, so our eyes have evolved to contain ten times as many cones as those of our furry friends. Our night vision is worse, but we can see a full rainbow’s worth of color during the day.

How else are cat and human eyes different?

Evolutionary forces have also changed how well felines and humans can focus on objects at different distances. Because cats are closer to the ground and have more acute senses of sound and smell, focusing sharply on objects at distances greater than 50 yards away has never been a priority. As a result, they are somewhat nearsighted compared to us. Felines can detect things in the distance, but those objects tend to appear blurry.

What does all of this mean?

Though your kitty’s ability to detect and perceive color is largely unimportant with regard to its health and wellbeing, knowing about its sensory abilities can help you create a more enjoyable living space for your feline friend.

For more information please visit our Feline Health Library at: www.justcatsclinic.com.

by Elizabeth Arguelles July 17, 2015 at 11:00 am 3 Comments

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. 

One of the hardest things to accept as a pet parent is the undeniable reality that we will likely outlive our furry friends. Proper veterinary care can certainly help you get many long happy years with your kitty, but the difference in our average lifespans means that you will probably have to say goodbye to a beloved friend and part of your life.

For many, this can be as emotionally difficult and painful as losing a human member of the family. The resulting grief can be debilitating and can cause wider problems if not dealt with effectively.

Fortunately, there are strategies for coping with the death of a beloved pet. The first step is to better understand your own emotional response. There are five generally accepted stages that one passes through on the journey from the initial loss to a place of healing and recovery. Let’s look at each one a little more closely:

1. Shock, disbelief and denial: When a cat parent first loses a beloved friend, the enormity of the situation, the intense pain and the feeling of bereavement often overwhelm the person’s capacity to handle them. Refusing to believe or accept reality (more…)

by Elizabeth Arguelles July 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by veterinarian Elizabeth Arguelles, owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza.

Introducing a new cat into your home if you already have another kitty can be challenging. But with patience and hard work, you can have a multi-cat household that’s not only rewarding for you, but for your new kitty crew as well!

The most important tip is to take things slowly. When bringing a new cat into your home, patience is critical. It may take two cats eight to twelve months to grow accustomed to each other, so introduce them gradually and do not rush.

Before you pick up your new cat, prepare a place in your home like a larger bathroom or separate bedroom with bedding, food, water, litter box and toys. Also make sure to spray Feliway or place Feliway diffusers around your home to help with the transition. Place your new cat in the separate room. This allows your new cat to adjust to the new surroundings and your current kitties to adjust to the smells and sounds of the new family member.

Make sure to give meals, treats, and playtime near the door that separates them. This will help them get used to each other at meal times and to associate good things with each other. (more…)

by Elizabeth Arguelles June 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm 0

Beyond Nine Lives

This is a sponsored post by Elizabeth Arguelles, veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza.

Preventive care and regular wellness checks at your veterinarian are an important part of helping your cat live beyond nine lives. In addition to keeping your feline friend’s vaccinations up to date, wellness care also gives your vet an opportunity to catch any disease processes early before further damage occurs.

How often should you take your cat in for wellness exams?

While it depends greatly on your cat’s particular needs, the general rule of thumb depends on age. For healthy cats seven years and under, annual examinations are recommended, even if no vaccinations are needed at that time. Senior cats, ages 8 to 14, need preventative exams once every six months, or twice a year. Geriatric cats, ages 15 and beyond, ideally need exams once every three months, or four times a year.

Factors that influence the frequency of the visits include your cat’s age, breed, prior medical history, lifestyle and vaccination history.

What preventive care will the vet administer during each visit?

The first and arguably most important part of every wellness check is a full visual and physical exam of your cat. The information that your veterinarian collects during this exam will help establish a baseline regarding your cat’s health for use in this and future exams.

When your vet does a nose-to-tail exam, they examine the following:

  • Body condition score: Checking your cat’s weight and body condition on
  • Weight: Checking for trends of weight loss or gain
  • Coat condition: Checking if your cat’s coat is dry, oily, has any dandruff
  • Eyes: Checking for any abnormalities and assessing vision
  • Ears: Checking for any debris
  • Mouth: Checking dental health including plaque, tooth decay, gingivitis a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being too thin and 5 being too heavy and whether your cat is grooming itself regularly
  • Heart and Lungs: Listening for any abnormalities and assessing any
  • Abdomen: Palpitate abdomen feeling for any abnormalities and checking
  • Pain Assessment: Checking on a scale of 0 to 4 by applying pressure
  • Walk/gait: Checking for any stiffness or abnormality
  • Mouth: Checking dental health including plaque, tooth decay, gingivitis and overall gum health. Cats’ teeth can develop problems very easily, so regular dental checkups and cleanings are critical to maintaining good health, especially as your kitty ages. The dental screening often helps prevent mouth pain and infections that, if left untreated, could lead to other illnesses.
  • Heart and Lungs: Listening for any abnormalities and assessing any heart murmurs
  • Abdomen: Palpitate abdomen feeling for any abnormalities and checkingfor changes in size of liver, kidneys and the large/small intestine.
  • Pain Assessment: Checking on a scale of 0 to 4 by applying pressure during examination at certain points and watching for reaction with 4 being very painful and 0 being no sign of pain
  • Walk/gait: Checking for any stiffness or abnormality when walking/jumping; looking for signs of pain or potential joint disease

An exam should also include:

Annual Labs: By performing lab work annually, we may be able to spot underlying disease processes and create a treatment plan before symptoms become severe. Even if you have a young cat, annual labs can provide an important baseline for your veterinarian to spot future early disease processes. (more…)

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