Blastomycosis in Cats

Blastomycosis in cats

What is blastomycosis?   Transmission   Symptoms   Diagnosis   Treatment   Prevention

What is blastomycosis?

Blastomycosis is a systemic infection caused by the dimorphic microfungus Blastomyces dermatitidis, which is present in moist soil and areas of thick decaying matter such as river banks, lakes, swamps, forests, and woods. It is most prevalent in the mid-Atlantic, north-central and Ohio-Mississippi river valley areas. Fortunately, cats are more resistant to the disease than dogs and humans.

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Aspergillosis in Cats

Aspergillosis in cats

What is aspergillosis?   Symptoms   Diagnosis   Treatment

 

What is aspergillosis?

Aspergillosis is a disease caused by fungi of the genus Aspergillus which is present on dead leaves, compost heaps, soil and the in the air. The fungus typically affects the nasal cavity, respiratory system or digestive tract of the cat and in some cases, the spores can also trigger an allergic reaction in the cat.

The most common types to affect cats are Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus terreus.

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Cruciate Ligament Rupture in Cats

Cruciate ligament rupture in cats

What is a cruciate ligament rupture?    Symptoms    Diagnosis    Treatment    Aftercare

About

The cruciate ligament is a pair of ligaments which form an X shape within the knee of the hind leg. These ligaments attach the femur (thigh bone) with the tibia (shinbone), the long bones above and below the knee joint (which is known as the stifle joint in quadruped/four-footed animals).

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Pneumonia in Cats

Pneumonia in cats

About

Pneumonia is an infectious/inflammatory disorder of the lung parenchyma. The lungs are filled with thousands of tiny bronchi, which end in smaller sacs known as alveoli which contain tiny blood vessels. Oxygen is added to the blood and carbon dioxide removed via the alveoli. Pneumonia causes these alveoli to fill with pus and fluids which affect the lung’s ability to exchange gases.

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Myelodysplasia in Cats

Myelodysplasia in cats

What is myelodysplasia?  Causes   Symptoms  Diagnosis   Treatment   Prognosis

At a glance

About: Myelodysplasia is a group of diseases caused by a dysfunction of blood cell production in the bone marrow. It can affect red or white blood cells and platelets.

Causes: FIV and FeLV, exposure to toxins such as lead, chemotherapy, copper deficiency and myeloid leukemia. In most cases, it will not be possible to determine the cause.

Symptoms: There can be a variety of symptoms depending on the cells affected.

  • Anemia: pale gums, lethargy, rapid breathing and heart rate.
  • Leukopenia: Mouth ulcers, recurrent infections, fever and fatigue.
  • Thrombocytopenia: increased bleeding, black tarry stools.

Diagnosis: Complete physical examination, accompanying symptoms and history. A bone marrow biopsy under general anesthetic can confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment: Blood transfusions, antibiotics (where needed), hematopoietic growth factors, immunosuppressive drugs, low dose chemotherapy. The only cure for myelodysplasia is a bone marrow transplant (rare).

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Malassezia in Cats

Malassezia in cats

What is Malassezia?   Causes     Symptoms   Diagnosis   Treatment   Is Malassezia contagious?

 What is Malassezia?

Malassezia pachydermatis is a common yeast which is a normal part of the flora (microenvironment) of the superficial layers of both human and animal skin.

The organism usually lives on the skin, ear canals, oral cavity and body orifices (vagina and anus) in low numbers where it usually causes no harm. In some cases, a proliferation occurs and causes disease. There are several types of Malassezia yeast,  Malassezia pachydermatis is the most common form to affect cats.  The yeast metabolises fats on the surface of the skin (lipophilic).

Causes

There are several contributing factors to this; essentially when ; tests immunological or physical mechanisms break down, yeast overgrowth can occur. As well as barriers keeping the yeast in check, environmental conditions may play a role. Most yeasts and funguses thrive in moist, humid conditions.

  • Immunosuppression – There are several reasons your cat’s immune system may be suppressed including feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia, and certain cancers.
  • Long-term antibiotic use – These can affect the normal bacterial which is also a part of the microenvironment, giving the Malassezia a chance to proliferate.
  • Allergies (atopic dermatitis, food allergy, flea allergy dermatitis) – Food, flea allergies, inhaled (dust mites, pollens) or contact allergies can contribute to the excess growth of Malassezia as cats tend to express allergy symptoms through their skin. This can result in itching, scratching and eventually damage to the surface of the skin, this may provide an ideal environment for the yeast to flourish.
  • Long-term use of systemic corticosteroids – Which can dampen the immune system.
  • Endocrine disorders – Including Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism (which is rare in cats).
  • Seborrhea – A skin disorder caused by an over-production of sebum, an oily substance which lubricates and protect the skin. Excess sebum can create an ideal environment for Malassezia to grow.
  • Certain tumours including thyomas (a tumour originating from the epithelial cells of the thymus), pancreatic or liver carcinoma.

There is no gender or age ; tests, however, Devon Rexes and Himalayan cats appear to be over-represented. The condition is extremely common in dogs but quite rare in cats.

Symptoms

Commonly affected areas include the face and facial skin folds, chin, neck, ear canals (Malassezia otitis media), outer ear (Malassezia otitis externa), armpits, between the toes and claw folds. Lesions may be confined to one small spot or cover a large area of the body.

  • Overgrooming
  • Multiple areas of alopecia (hair loss)
  • The skin may appear thickened (hyperkeratosis)
  • Itching
  • Inflamed or crusted areas
  • Greasy yellow/brown coloured lesions
  • Unpleasant odour
  • Facial fold dermatitis
  • Chin acne, with swelling
  • Claws and nail folds, redness, hair loss, brown greasy exudate
  • Ears, redness, pain, waxy build up

As well as symptoms of Malassezia, your cat may also have additional symptoms relating to the underlying disease which has caused Malassezia.

The yeast may also be responsible for non-responsive cases of feline acne.

Diagnosis

As Malassezia is commonly associated with a serious underlying disease, it is important to seek veterinary treatment.

Diagnostic workup:

  • Biochemical profile, complete blood count, and urinalysis to evaluate the overall health of your cat and look for signs of allergy or infection (such as increased white blood cells).
  • Skin cytology from affected areas using direct impression smears onto glass slides, cotton swabs, skin scrapings or sticky tape on dry patches of skin or exudate; these samples are stained with Diff-Quik and examined under a microscope. Low numbers of Malassezia may not indicate disease as it is normal for cats to naturally have this yeast on their skin, but if large numbers are present in samples, this can be suggestive of an overgrowth.

It is also necessary to determine the underlying cause, tests can include the following:

  • X-rays or ultrasound
  • Food trials
  • Skin allergy test
  • FIV and FeLV blood test

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to address the underlying cause as well as reduce numbers of yeast on the skin. Most anti-fungal medications contain one of the following, miconazole, clotrimazole, thiabendazole, ketoconazole and chlorhexidine. There is concern about a growing resistance of Malassezia to azole containing medications.

  • Anti-fungal shampoos, sprays, mousse or wipes may for mild or localised infections. Treat one to two times a week for 4-6 weeks. Some products may also treat both yeast and bacterial growth concurrently.
  • Antifungal drops for Malassezia in the ear. Clean the ear of exudate before applying the medication. Some ear cleaning products already contain anti-fungal treatments.
  • For more severe cases of Malassezia, oral Itraconazole or fluconazole will be prescribed which can be given alone or used in conjunction with anti-fungal shampoos. Some side effects may occur in cats treated with azole antifungals including nausea, vomiting, and anorexia (loss of appetite). Cats on long-term azoles may also experience elevated liver enzymes, so follow up appointments with your cat’s veterinarian and testing may be necessary.
  • Oral antibiotics to treat concurrent bacterial infection.

If the underlying cause is not treated, Malassezia is highly likely to come back.

Is Malassezia contagious to other cats or humans?

No, it is not contagious.

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Do Cats Fart? All About Flatulence in Cats

Do cats fart? Flatulence in cats

Do cats fart?

Yes, cats fart, in fact, all mammals fart. Farting, also known as flatulence refers to the expulsion of intestinal gases from the anus.

The unpleasant smell comes from intestinal gas which occurs when bacteria in the cat’s colon break down food. This gas build-up, known as endogenous gas is expelled via the anus.

While all cats fart, but excessive farting has an underlying cause which will need to be investigated.

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Dilated Pupils in Cats: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Dilated pupils in cat

The pupil is the black slit/circular shape in the middle of the cat’s iris (the coloured part of the eye). Pupils control the amount of light which enters the eye by dilating (becoming large) and constricting (becoming small/slit-like).

Normal causes of dilated pupils in cats

  • Reduced light: The pupil dilates in poor light to let in more light or will constrict (shrink) in bright light to reduce the amount of light.
  • Emotions:  When a cat is angry or aggravated, the pupils constrict when it is happy, excited or scared, they dilate.
  • Certain medications: (Atropine, tropicamide, morphine, clonidine, amphetamine) and plants (such as catnip) can cause dilated pupils in cats. If your cat is on medication and has dilated pupils, contact your veterinary surgery who will be able to advise if this is a common side effect.

Both pupils should be equal in size, and when looked at with a bright light, they should both constrict quickly.

Causes

Dilated pupils in cats

Feline dysautonomia

Feline dilated pupil syndrome or Key-Gaskell syndrome

A rare condition first discovered in 1982 caused by a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. This system controls parts of the body not consciously operated such as heartbeat, digestive system, and pupillary response. Young cats under three years old are most commonly affected. The cause is unknown, although some suggest that Clostridium botulinum (botulism) may be a cause. 

Symptoms:

  • Dilated nonresponsive pupils
  • Protrusion of the third eyelid
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Straining to urinate or urinary incontinence

Treatment:

There is no cure for this condition, and the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms which may include:

  • Elevated feeding position: Feed the cat in an elevated position so that gravity can help to push food down the esophagus. The cat should remain in that position for 10-15 minutes after each meal.
  • Feeding tube: It may be necessary to place a feeding tube in cats who cannot eat in an upright feeding position or who are refusing food.
  • Fluid therapy: To treat cats with dehydration.
  • Artificial tears: To moisten and lubricate the eyes.

Insulinoma

A tumour of the beta cells of the pancreas that produces excessive amounts of insulin, leading to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which causes neurological problems and weakness.

Symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased appetite
  • Weakness, especially in the hind legs
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle twitching
  • Mental confusion
  • Seizures

Treatment:

If possible, surgical removal of the tumour otherwise, medical management such as steroids to promote the formation of glucose and dietary management.

Brain tumour

Brain tumours are an abnormal growth of cells which can be benign or malignant and account for 2.2% of all tumours in cats. They can be primary, originating in the brain or its membranes, or secondary, having originated elsewhere. Approximately 70% of brain tumours are primary. There are many types of brain tumours, depending on the cells involved, the most common type of brain tumour in cats is a meningioma, a benign tumour that arises from the meninges, which is the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms:

Can vary on the type of brain tumour as well as its location within the brain, but may include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Seizures
  • Head pressing
  • Circling
  • Head tilting
  • Drunken gait (ataxia)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of vision
  • Vomiting

Treatment:

  • The treatment of choice is surgical removal of the tumour, where possible. However, this is not possible for many brain tumours which are located deep within the brain.
  • Other treatment options include radiation and or chemotherapy to shrink the tumour and slow down its progress.
  • Supportive care to manage symptoms can include medications to control seizures and nausea.

Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment in cats

Retinal detachment (RD) is a common, serious and sight-threatening disorder which occurs when the retina (a thin, transparent layer of light-sensitive tissue which lines the rear of the eye) detaches from the underlying retinal pigment epithelium layer. High blood pressure is the most common cause of retinal detachment, and hyperthyroidism (a benign tumour of the thyroid gland) is a leading cause of high blood pressure. Kidney disease (the kidneys regulate blood pressure by releasing the enzyme renin, which constricts (tightens) blood vessels, increasing blood pressure.

Hyperviscosity syndrome (HVS) in which causes the blood to become thicker than usual due to increased proteins (hyperproteinemia), most often associated with multiple myeloma which can lead to ruptures in the small blood vessels behind the retina.

Other causes include trauma, infection, inflammation, cancers, glaucoma, toxins, and autoimmune disease.

Symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Sudden blindness
  • Other symptoms will vary depending on the underlying cause

Treatment:

The goal of treatment is to address the underlying cause, which may include:

  • Medication to control blood pressure.
  • Radioactive iodine to kill the thyroid tumour or surgery to remove it. Non-surgical options include a prescription diet low in iodine.
  • Low protein diet for cats with chronic kidney disease.

Head trauma

Any head trauma can potentially damage the brain and affect the autonomic nervous system, which as we noted above, is responsible for specific functions cat has no direct control over such as heartbeat, digestive system, and pupillary response. A fall from a height, trauma from a car accident or intentional hit to the head can all potentially cause injury to the brain.

Symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Changes in behaviour

Treatment:

Treatment depends on the severity of the trauma; it will require hospitalisation and supportive care, including fluid therapy, oxygen therapy, medications to control seizures and in some cases, surgery.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma in cats

An increase of pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure) which can damage the optic nerve, connecting the brain to the eye. The most common cause is a blockage to the drainage system within the eye, leading to a build-up of fluid, which may be due to inflammation or infection, trauma, displacement of the lens, cataract surgery or tumours.

Symptoms:

Glaucoma is a sneaky disease and often has few signs until irreversible damage has occurred.

  • Dilated pupil
  • Pain
  • One eye which appears larger than the other
  • Squinting
  • Loss of vision

Treatment:

  • Medications (dorzolamide and or timolol) to bring down the intraocular pressure.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to control inflammation.
  • Painkillers to relieve pain.
  • Surgical removal of the eye (enucleation) if blindness has occurred.

Hypocalcemia

Low level of calcium in the blood levels, which impacts many body systems, including the heart and nervous system. There are several causes of hypocalcemia which include: Hypoparathyroidism: Low parathyroid hormone levels in the blood, most commonly due to the accidental removal of the parathyroid gland during surgery to remove the thyroid gland in cats with hyperthyroidism. The parathyroid glands are responsible for monitoring blood calcium levels and when they decrease, secreting a parathyroid hormone to stimulate the release of calcium from the bones.

Acute or chronic kidney disease: Damage to kidneys cause a decrease in their ability to filter the blood and remove toxins (via the urine). Kidney disease affects blood calcium in two ways.

  • Increased blood phosphorous pushes blood calcium into bone and other tissues.
  • The kidneys are responsible for the production of vitamin D, and when levels drop, there is a decrease in gastrointestinal absorption of calcium from the food.

Milk fever: This condition occurs in female cats who are nursing kittens.

Other causes of hypocalcemia include acute pancreatitis, sepsis (blood infection), ethylene glycol poisoning, hypoalbuminemia and administration of phosphate enemas.

Symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Twitching
  • Stiff legged gait
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

Treatment:

The goal of treatment is to find and manage the underlying cause as well as treat symptoms of hypocalcemia.

  • Slow intravenous administration of calcium gluconate 10% solution.
  • Fluid therapy and nutritional support if your cat is anorexic.
  • Vitamin D assists in the absorption of calcium, and therefore may also be given.
  • Once the cat has stabilised, oral administration of calcium supplements. Adjustments may be necessary with both vitamin D and calcium in the first few months.
  • ECG to check for cardiac abnormalities.
  • Regular blood tests to monitor calcium levels to ensure they don’t become too low or too high (hypercalcemia), monthly checks will be necessary for the first six months and then every 2-3 months after that.

Thiamine deficiency

Thiamine (B1) is a water-soluble vitamin which plays a vital role in many bodily functions including metabolising carbohydrates, maintaining a healthy heart and nervous system. Thiamine deficiency is rare in cats and is usually associated with those who eat a home-made diet which is either cooked in water or heat (both of which destroy thiamine) or a diet high in fish.

Symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ataxia (wobbly gait)
  • Loss of righting reflexes
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Behaviour changes
  • Twitching
  • Cervical ventroflexion (necks flexed/rigid, which causes an inability to raise the head, the chin rests near the chest)

Treatment:

  • Feed a nutritionally balanced diet and avoid diets containing large quantities of fish.
  • Thiamine injections.

Venom toxicity

Venom is a form of poison secreted by several animals in defence or to kill their prey. Snakes, scorpions, spiders, and ticks are all common sources of venom toxicity in cats.

Symptoms:

Venom affects several body systems, including the blood, nervous system and heart and symptoms can vary depending on the type and amount of venom

  • Dilated pupils
  • Ataxia (wobbly gait)
  • Drooling
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding (nose, mouth, anus)
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty breathing

Treatment:

Where possible, administer antivenom which counteracts the effects of the venom. Intense supportive care is essential and may include oxygen therapy, intravenous fluids, anti-nausea medication and nutritional support.

Anticholinergic drugs and plants

Drugs or plants with anticholinergic effects are substances which block acetylcholine from binding to its receptors on certain nerve cells, inhibiting parasympathetic nerve impulses. These nerve impulses are part of the autonomic nervous system responsible for several functions not consciously controlled, which includes pupil dilation and constriction). Several prescription and over the counter drugs in the following classes have anticholinergic effects, which include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA’s)
  • Mydriatics/eye drops which dilate the pupils (atropine, phenylephrine, tropicamide, cyclopentolate)
  • Neuroleptics/antipsychotics
  • Cycloplegic drugs
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl/diphenhydramine)
  • Cold medications (pseudoephedrine and decongestants)
  • Cardiovascular and gastrointestinal medications
  • Parasympatholytic medications

Plants with anticholinergic properties include:

  • Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade)
  • Brugmansia species
  • Datura species
  • Garrya species
  • Hyoscyamus (henbane)
  • Mandragora officinarum (mandrake)
  • Lycopersicon (tomato)
  • Solanum (nightshade)

Symptoms:

  • Hyperthermia (elevated temperature)
  • Drooling
  • Ataxia (wobbly gait)
  • Behavioural changes
  • Lethargy
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Delayed gastrointestinal emptying (decreased bowel motions)
  • Urinary retention
  • Seizures
  • Decreased heart rate

Treatment:

Gastrointestinal decontamination if ingestion is recent followed by activated charcoal to bind to any remaining toxins in the gastrointestinal tract.

The antidote for anticholinergic toxicity is Physostigmine, which works by increasing extracellular levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which counteracts the effects of the anticholinergics.

Supportive care may include intravenous fluids to correct pH disturbances or electrolyte imbalances, oxygen therapy, pilocarpine to reduce pupil dilation, diazepam to control seizures.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination and may need to perform some diagnostic tests to determine the cause.

He will carefully examine the eyes and obtain a medical history from you.

  • How long have symptoms been present?
  • Have you noticed any other symptoms?
  • Is the cat’s vision affected?
  • Is the cat on any medication?
  • Does the cat have any underlying medical conditions?

Diagnostic workup:

  • Baseline tests – Biochemical profile, complete blood count, and urinalysis to check the overall health of your cat and evaluate for diabetes (glucose in the blood and urine)
  • Blood pressure – This test uses a cuff and doppler to measure pressure within the arteries to check for high blood pressure.
  • Ultrasound – To evaluate the eyes and pancreas for signs of inflammation or tumours.
  • CT scan – This advanced diagnostic imaging uses x-ray and a computer to look inside the cat’s brain, in this case, to evaluate for tumours. The procedure is carried out under heavy sedation or anesthesia to ensure the cat remains still.
  • Tonometry – Measurement of the pressure within the eye to check for glaucoma.
  • Ophthalmoscopy – Examination of the back of the eye which includes the optic nerve, blood vessels and retina.
  • Gonioscopy – A gonioscope is used in conjunction with a slit lamp to evaluate the internal drainage system of the eye (anterior chamber) where the cornea and iris meet.

What should you do?

If you notice your cat has dilated pupils, move him to a source of light, or shine a torch in the eyes to see if they constrict (go smaller). If there is no change, despite exposure to light, consult your veterinarian.