With 2016 coming to a close, I decided to put together a list of the most popular articles added to the site this year.
I hope you enjoy and Happy New Year to all my cat loving friends.
1) Low platelets
Medically known as thrombocytopenia, low platelets (PLT) is a decreased number of platelets in the blood. Normal platelet levels should be around 200,000 µL (microlitre).
Platelets (also known as thrombocytes) are disc-shaped, nonnucleated cell fragments which circulate the bloodstream. Their function is to stop blood loss (known as hemostasis). There are three mechanisms which work together, stopping the flow of blood.
There are a number of causes of low platelets in cats that can be broken into four categories, decreased production of platelets, premature destruction of platelets, sequestration in the spleen, platelets are used up faster than they can be produced. Each category has a number of possible causes.
2) Leg amputation
Affectionately referred to as 'tripod cats', leg amputation is surgical removal of the limb. Cats are such agile creatures, it is hard to imagine how a cat could possibly cope on three legs, but they manage easier than we often give them credit for.
Amputations can be performed on forelegs or hind legs, it is much more common for an amputation to occur on the hind leg, although front legs can be amputated too. It is rare for more than one leg to be amputated and a specialised cart will be required for your cat to move around if more than one leg is removed, cats can easily move around on three legs.
3) Tail amputation
Your cat's tail is an extension of his spine but is naturally more flexible. It is used to help your cat balance as well as a way for your cat to communicate to others. Also known as 'caudectomy', tail amputation refers to the surgical removal of the cat's tail. This type of surgery is performed quite often on dogs and cats.
This surgery may be need to be performed and can loosely be put into three categories; trauma, infection, cancer. Trauma resulting in the tail becoming paralysed, or de-gloved (see below) are the most common causes of tail amputations in cats.
4) Feeding cats raw meat
Another topic which frequently sparks fierce debate is the feeding of raw meat to cats. Some people swear by it, others believe it is a danger that is not worth the potential risks. I don't know if this argument will ever be solved, but as pet owners it is up to us to do the research and come up with an informed decision. I do think overall there is a growing cynicism towards commercial diets, with one feline veterinarian, Dr Richard Malik (whom I respect greatly) offering his own opinion in this article.
5) Joint dislocation
A joint dislocation is when bones in a joint pull apart and out of position. Any joint can be affected but the most mobile joints are at greater risk of dislocation. If surrounding tendons and ligaments are damaged it is known as a 'luxation', if the joint is dislocated but surrounding tissues undamaged, it is a 'subluxation'.
6) Chicken liver for cats
One of the most searched topics on the forums is, is it okay to feed my cat chicken livers? The short answer is 'yes', the long answer is 'but with caution'.
Chicken livers are highly palatable to cats and they contain a number of great nutrients, some of which include:
- Vitamin B
- Folic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
7) Scabby ears in cats
Known as pinnae, the outer (visible) part of the cat's ear is susceptible to developing thickening, crusting and scaling. Medically it is known as ear edge dermatitis or ear margin dermatitis.
There are a number of causes of crusty, scaly ears in cats. Parasites, allergies, sunburn, and systemic disorders to name a few. Crusty ear margins may be the only symptom your cat has, or you may notice other signs.
8) Cat breathing fast
Medically known as tachypnea, rapid breathing is a respiratory disorder characterised by abnormal breathing that is rapid and shallow. It is caused by a reduced level of oxygen, mechanical disorders (where the lungs aren't able to expand as they should, usually due to a build-up of fluid in or around the lungs, and physiological disorders in which the cat's respiratory centre in the brain is over stimulated.
9) Melena (dark tarry stools) in cats
Melena is a condition characterised by black and tarry stools due to the presence of blood.
The dark colour of melena is due to digested blood within the feces. This bleeding may originate from the pharynx, lungs (where the blood is coughed up and then swallowed), esophagus, stomach or upper small intestine. The colour and tarry texture are due to the breakdown of hemaglobin in the blood by bacteria in the stomach.
10) When do kittens lose their baby teeth?
Kittens begin to lose their baby teeth around 3 - 4 months of age. This is to make room for the larger adult (or permanent) teeth. Most cat owners won't even notice a kitten has lost his tooth, it is often lost around the home or swallowed.
Around the time the baby teeth fall out, at 3 - 4 months. In some cases, your cat may have a retained baby tooth, which is exactly as it sounds, the baby tooth remains in the mouth despite the adult tooth erupting close by. There is more information on this condition here.