Cat gift cards
The Refined Canine



  Veterinarian Q & A

Julie Pomerantz D.V.M, is veterinarian practicing in New York City.

Feel free to submit your questions to Dr. Pomerantz and we will email you when they are posted. Because of the volume we can not answer all questions received.
Click here to submit your question

This information DOES NOT replace professional veterinary care. It is intended solely for educational purposes. Your pet's medical condition should be evaluated by a veterinarian before implementation of any medical or husbandry changes. If there is a potentially life-threatening emergency involving your pet, take your pet to a veterinarian or veterinary facility IMMEDIATELY.

March 2008

What are some Easter Safety Tips for my Kitties?
On Easter morning, your curious kitty may be prowling around the Easter basket, but it may not be the marshmallow chickies that she has her eye on! To many cats, the plastic “grass” in the basket looks good enough to eat. Unfortunately this stuff is simply not digestible and once swallowed it can cause dangerous obstruction of the cat’s digestive tract – usually requiring surgery to remove it. The damage to the intestines can be very serious or even fatal. Sometimes the strands of plastic become caught around the base of the cat’s tongue making the cat gag and causing damage to the esophagus. The best way to avoid this hazard is to not use plastic “grass”. If the Easter bunny will be visiting your house please ask him to use a safer alternative such as green tissue paper or even a colorful bandanna to line the Easter basket.

Aside from plastic grass, real plants are even more enticing for cats to nibble on. Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum), and other members of the family Liliaceae, are a very serious source of danger for cats and other pets. Cats that ingest any part of a lily – the leaves, stem, flower or even the pollen – can be poisoned. Even a very small amount is considered dangerous. The exact mechanism by which this poisoning takes place is not known but symptoms such as vomiting can appear within hours of eating the plant and progress to fatal kidney failure within a few days. If treatment is begun immediately – within a few hours of ingestion - it may be possible to prevent or mitigate the damage to the kidneys. For those cats surviving the acute phase of lily intoxication a prolonged stay in the hospital and possibly dialysis treatment may be required to allow the kidneys to have a chance of recovering.

If someone gives you a lily this year, why not donate it to a hospital, nursing home (check to be sure they don’t have a feline resident!) or church. In that way, other people can enjoy the flower’s beauty without risking the health of your cat.


How can I get my feline more fit?
Fat cats weigh heavily on my mind. Just like people, cats who are overweight are prone to a variety of health problems – orthopedic injuries, heart problems, diabetes and more. Many tubby tabbies also have problems with personal hygiene - it gets hard to reach some spots for grooming – others give up on grooming entirely.

Many owners don’t seem to realize that their cats are overweight. So right now, I want you to examine your cat objectively – I know he or she is sitting on your desk helping you with the computer. Can you feel the ribs without having to dig your fingertips in? Does he/she have a waistline behind the ribs? When viewed from above is the abdomen the same width or a little narrower than the chest? If you answered “No” to any of these questions your cat may have a weight problem.

The first step in anyone’s weight management plan is a visit to the doctor to rule out any underlying health problems and to design a weight loss program suited to the individual.
The most important part of feline weight loss is that it be very gradual – cats who lose weight too quickly can experience dangerous complications.

Diet is the main component in any weight management program. Both portion size and the type of food fed are important. Cats who are only mildly overweight might be managed with strict portion control alone. However, for cats with significant weight problems it is not appropriate to simply decrease the amount of regular food being fed because this may result in nutritional deficiencies. For these cats veterinarians often suggest prescription diets formulated to allow weight loss while ensuring adequate levels of vital nutrients. Diet foods for cats fall into two categories – some provide a higher fiber content to help the cat feel “full” while providing fewer calories, other diets have an increased ratio of fat and protein relative to carbohydrates, more closely mimicking the diet of hunting cat. Your veterinarian will decide if one of these protocols is appropriate for your cat.

Increasing exercise for indoor cats is also helpful. Nothing can replace the energy expenditure of hunting for a living, but indoor toys and games can help get those armchair mousers moving. Just like any out of shape athlete, your cat will need to get into training gradually to avoid injury.

Remember, only your cat’s veterinarian can advise you on what is best for your cat and he or she can help your kitty with a safe plan to achieve a healthy weight.


What's the best way to introduce a new cat to a home which has a cat?
Introducing a new cat or kitten to a home already occupied by a feline family member can be a delicate matter. Cats are territorial and almost all cats will feel that the new kitty is an invader. With human patience and some environmental adjustments most introductions can be accomplished with a minimum of stress.

All new cats and kittens should have a veterinary check-up and be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and parasites before being brought home. The timing of these tests depends on the cat’s prior exposure history and should be discussed with your veterinarian. Cats or kittens with uncertain health histories (such as: strays, cats adopted from shelters or rescue groups or purchased in pet stores) should be strictly quarantined for two weeks to help avoid contagion in case they are incubating an infectious disease. Even apparently healthy cats can suffer a stress induced relapse of an upper respiratory infection that can be contagious to other cats.

The new cat can be quarantined in one room, allowing the current resident feline to still have the run of most of the house. During the quarantine period there should be no direct contact between the cats and people should wash their hands after handling the new cat. Nonetheless, the cats will know about each other’s presence because of their acute senses of smell and hearing. As the end of the quarantine period approaches begin placing the cats’ food dishes closer and closer to the opposite sides of the closed door so that they associate the reward of food with proximity to their new housemate. Allow each cat to explore the other one’s “territory” by himself/herself first and then with the other cat present. Always supervise the interactions of the cats and go back to a lower level of contact if there is conflict. Make sure that there are ample hiding places and escape routes to avoid forced confrontation. Make food, water bowls and litterboxes (rule of thumb is one more box than the number of cats!) easily accessible and in more than one location to avoid one cat “guarding” these resources. Most introductions go smoothly but some cats are less sociable than others – if things aren’t going well talk to your veterinarian for advice specific to your situation.


Dry vs Canned Cat Food?
Feline diet formulation is the subject of much debate and recommendations about the best type of food to feed are constantly changing as we learn more about the health of our feline friends. Veterinarians may prescribe specific types of food for cats with health problems but for normal cats, the pros and cons of both diet types must be considered.

Dry foods are convenient, they are easy to carry and store and do not spoil quickly when served. Dry foods are formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition but they are often high in carbohydrates that may predispose cats to obesity and diabetes. Some people believe that constant “snacking” on dry food interferes with the cat’s metabolism and if the cat never eats enough to feel satiated then he or she may continue to snack – this promotes a vicious circle. A few dry foods have been specifically formulated to promote dental health but even so, if avoiding the dentist were that easy we would probably all be happily munching cat food!

Canned foods may cost more per portion and fresh food must be offered at each mealtime, which may be difficult depending on the owner’s schedule. A lot of kitties find the aroma of canned food to be enticing, but the humans in the house don’t always agree! Many canned foods have a higher protein and fat content relative to carbohydrates and so mimic more closely the diet of a hunting cat but high fat foods are also high in calories. Overfeeding canned food can be fattening too! The higher water content of canned food can help induce a feeling of satiation and can also be beneficial for cats with urinary bladder problems.

There is no one correct answer in the canned vs. dry question. Many people choose to feed both canned and dry foods for variety and convenience. The particular health benefits of each type of diet need to be considered on an individual basis for each cat. As always, your cat’s veterinarian can advise you on what is best for your cat.


Cat Furniture | Cat Towers | Cat Shelves | Litter Box Furniture | Cat Beds | FAQ | Policies | International | Links | Site Map
Copyright © 2012 RefinedKind Pet Products. The Refined Feline is a Registered Trade Mark