Ask a Vet | Aggressive Cat Behavior

March 20th, 2012
By Online Vet, Dr. Laci

It is a problem that I had heard clients complain about before but had never had the stress of dealing with myself. Cats A and B are best friends and do everything together. Cat A goes to the vet and Cat B stays home. Cat A returns to receive anything but a warm welcome from Cat B, who hisses, attacks and seems determined to destroy Cat A. Cat B is convinced Cat A is an enemy and a threat. A previously wonderful cat relationship seems destroyed, and the household is a tense environment for all humans and furkids involved. “Will this ever improve…” you may ask a vet? Read about my own experiences.

ask a vet, online vetWe travel with our pets, like many people across the world do nowadays. Usually this works out okay, but our calico cat Mackenzie did become ill on a recent trip and we soon found ourselves in the vet emergency room at 1am. While Mackenzie suffered no long-term ill effects from the cup of espresso she managed to lap up while I was in the other room, the vacation condo was anything but relaxing when I returned home the next morning with Mackenzie in her carrier.

Rigby, our Siamese did not greet us with a welcome, to say the least. There was hissing, fur flying, growling, screaming, and full on attacks. Initially, I (and Mackenzie) was frozen and shocked, and then as soon as I could compose myself, I realized that Rigby was experiencing what is called non-recognition feline aggression. She didn’t know that Mackenzie was her beloved sister, as Mackenzie smelled like a stinky vet hospital and it is believed that cats recognize each other off their scents, not visual clues.

Non-recognition aggression in cats is an bizarre phenomenon that does not seem to occur in dogs—thank goodness. What it is about these mysterious felines’ personalities or sensory perception that leads to these events remains largely hypothetical, but it does happen and the bad news is there is no easy fix.

What finally worked for us was bathing both the cats in addition to feeding them in the same room. The bath really seemed to help speed things up in our household, but that isn’t always the case.

If you find yourself in this situation, you must separate the cats for as long it takes for the aggresion to end. This may be a few hours or you may be unlikely like we were and it make take upwards of two weeks. You can try to counter condition the aggresor cat by offering food only when the other cat is in sight; even if they are on opposite sides of the room. Make sure the aggressor is on a harness for the safety of all involved. You gradually decrease the space between the cats. Whenever one shows any aggression, distact him/her by making a loud noise, for instance. Read the rest of this entry »

How to toilet train your cat, part 2

February 29th, 2012
The Online Vets‘ quest towards a litter-free existence, continued from part 1

toilet train a cat, online vetAfter several days on step 2, which is a solid red bowl that fits inside fake white toilet frame, meaning no access or view of the sparkling toilet water below, we were pretty confident. We have the smartest kittens in the world, after all. I mean Rigby does tricks, she sits, she fetches, and sweet little Mackenzie, well, she just never could do anything wrong and the fact that she somehow convinced Rigby to listen to her without so much as a hiss is proof of her intelligence. Such a sweetie pie.

Anyways, we had the veterinarians’ meeting of the minds conversation where we discuss their future as if we deciding which school to send actual human children to, and we decided our girls are ready for the next step.

Step 3 is the orange bowl, and in the middle of the orange insert, there is a rather large hole. As you go through the steps, you essentially trick the cat into just peeing in the toilet while perched on the rim of the toilet seat. You slowly take away the litter tray and hope they are so used to the toilet, that they accept it and you say cianarra to cat litter–and more importantly, changing it–forever.

And we decided it was time to move onto step 3. Our brilliant kitten minds could handle it! Read the rest of this entry »

Ask a vet about risks of surgery in pets

January 31st, 2012

ask a vet a questionOnline vet reviews a rare complication from anesthesia that is no fault of the veterinarian’s, just a risk

Real question from pet parent to VetLIVE’s veterinarians:
My 8 yr, 10 mo old FS boxer went deaf after having an MRI on her brain. Could the MRI or the Anesthesia have caused this. She was given the following drugs during the MRI: Diazepam, Glycopyrrolate, Hydromorphone, Isoflurane, Naloxone, Propofol. Is there anything we can do to reverse this hearing loss?

Dear Terry,

I am very sorry to hear about the sudden deafness of your dog.

I have looked into some veterinary databases for you, and there is nothing reported connecting acute deafness with an MRI of the drugs you listed. The adverse side effects include CNS depression, coma, respiratory depression (these are all either very rare or as the result of an overdose), but there is nothing on deafness.

But, I was surprised to learn myself that general anesthesia itself may cause deafness in both ears from unknown causes. In rare cases, animals awaken from anesthesia deaf in both ears, often following ear cleaning or teeth cleaning. It may be the case that Read the rest of this entry »

What to get your vet for the holidays? An online vet review!

December 19th, 2011

online vet reviews, ask a vet, what to give your vet for christmasPerhaps it has never crossed your mind to get your vet something for the holidays, but there are a number of pet parents that do shower our clinics with tokens of appreciation. (Thanks guys!  You are in the minority and are appreciated!)

It is almost always in the form of desserts. Cookies, brownies, homemade candy…our lunch room overfloweth with endless calories that most of us really don’t need.

Instead, this year if you would like to share the holiday spirit with your vet and their staff, I would encourage you to give something of lasting value that also happens to be free—a positive online vet review.

It’s no secret that angry people are far more likely to go the trouble of ranting online with negative reviews than satisfied customers.  It is no different in the veterinary world.

As a veterinarian, I have received many handwritten cards, letters, and thank you notes from clients over the years; I cherrish and keep every single one. They warm my heart and remind me of why I am in the veterinary profession, which all the thankless irresponsible pet parents our there do a pretty damn good job of sometimes making me forget.

But I am the only one who sees them! Read the rest of this entry »

Kittens and Toilets: Can they really coexist to make the perfect pet?

December 17th, 2011

Ask a vet: Online vets review their first hand trials and tribulations with the litter kwitter

toilet training cats, vet storiesThis is not a product review, a recommendation or endorsement, and I have been in no contacted by or in contact with Litter Kwitter.  This is just intended to distract you from your life, desk job, boring partner, etc. for a few moments and share with you the comical adventures of two vets doing their damnedest to toilet train their precious and perfect kittens.

Several months ago while Dr. Jed and I were browsing the aisles of PetSmart, a curious item caught our eye. The Litter Kwitter.

We had watched the episode of Shark Tank where the woman presented her toilet litter contraption to the panel of investors and we had taken note. We had even heard from a few clients that had trained their cats (yes cats, not even young impressionable kittens) to successfully use the toilet!

Note to those considering this feat at home: cleaning this litter box is messier than your typical one. I don’t know why, I think it has something to do with how shallow it is, but it is messy, and there is lots of daily wiping and scrubbing. Not for those with a weak stomach, *insert cough saying Dr. Jed*

Dr. Jed and I looked at each other, back at the colorful box, and in our shopping cart it went.

The instructions say that you can start toilet training them as early as 3 months, as they may be big enough to squat on a toilet at this point, but we didn’t want to traumatize the poor little tykes with an accidental dunk in the old porcelain throne if their kitten coordination and balance still left something to be desired. Read the rest of this entry »

Funny Twist on Why to Neuter Your Pets!

December 1st, 2011

Here’s a funny video to carry you through the rest of your week!

Ask a vet your pet health questions 24/7. Your online vets are standing by.

Pet Nutrition: Pet Food Label Tips from your Online Vet

November 29th, 2011
Part 2: Ask a Vet

online vet, ask a vet, chat with a vetAs we reviewed last week in part one of pet nutrition, AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. This organization sets the nutritional standards for pet foods sold in the United States.

Easy things first–

online vet, ask a vetMOISTURE

There are four product forms for pet foods based on moisture level of the food:

1.  Dry = < 20% water content

2. Semi-moist = >20% and <65% content

3.  Wet = >65%  water content

4.  If the moisture level is above 78%, the product must be labeled as a stew, gravy, sauce, broth, milk replacer, expensive pet food in water, etc. The reason is that the maximum moisture declared on a wet pet food shall not exceed 78%

pet food nutrition, how to read a pet food labelThis probably seems pretty basic and logical to you.  Moving forward with how nutritional adequacy is actually determined.  There are two methods.

1. Formulation method

This method is less expensive, and results are determined more quickly because actual feeding or digestibility trials are not required. There is no guarantee of pet acceptance or nutrient bioavailability when utilizing this method.

The pet food product must simply meet the nutrient requirements for the specific life stage established by an AAFCO recognized nutrient profile. This is accomplished by a laboratory analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pet Nutrition: How to read a pet food label 101 by your online vet

November 17th, 2011

pet food label, pet nutrition, ask a vetPart One: Ask the vet

Choosing proper pet nutrition is one of the most important things that you as the pet parent can do to lengthen the healthy time that you and your pet will share together. After the melamine recall of 2007, pet owners internationally are taking a more active interest in pet nutrition.


Reading a pet food label can be quite the daunting task, but with a small amount of education, you can arm yourself with the information to make an informed decision.

We’ll start at the beginning. There are a few basics required to be on pet food labels. The manufacturer’s name, brand, and product, as well as what species the food is designated for, the net weight of the product, and a pet nutrition statement indicating if the food is for a juvenile, adult, etc. Not too many companies skip this basic info, and if they do, consider yourself warned.

Do you need to ask a vet about pet nutrition?  We provide online vet nutrition consultations, and you can get started by typing your question in the box to the right.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  The next broad area of the label to make sense of is defining what the food is labeled as.

The first group is the food that is labeled as 100% something, be it 100% beef, chicken,

ask a vet, online vet, pet nutrition

buffalo, you name it. If a pet food label says this, then it means that the product must be 95% or more of that particular food product they are claiming to be.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why is it hard to talk about fat pets?

November 14th, 2011

angry pet owner, pet owner denying pet's obesityIt’s not just me or Dr. Jed–it’s every vet I know. As soon as we mention that Fido is getting a little thick around the middle, our pet owners who seconds ago loved us now stare at us with hatred and resentment in their eyes!

Why is it so hard to talk to pet owners about keeping their pets a reasonable weight?

From dog to hog, from rabbit to cat,
Most pets I treat are relentlessly fat.

True, I have my clients that are happy to hear this and work towards their pet’s optimum weight, but they are in the minority.  Not sure if your pet is overweight? Ask a vet!

Today, as obesity in people is unanimously recognized as being dangerous for our heart, liver, kidney, joints, why isn’t obesity in pets given that same recognition, that same warning?

fat dog, chihuahua, obese chihuahua, obese dog

This Chihuahua needs more than a StairMaster

Barring medical causes of weight gain and decreased metabolism, pet obesity is something that pet owners actually have control over.  If I had someone determining when and how much I ate, I am sure I would be much more fit than I am.  Why don’t more pet owners realize this?  Food is not love!

I once had a 42 pound dachshund as a patient.  He was so sweet, and I loved his parents, but they wouldn’t do anything about his weight.  His belly dragged the ground.  When he died, he couldn’t even walk.  In the world were we have control over very little, this is something pet owners should take charge of!

If your vet tells you that Fido is overweight, it doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job!  We usually have at least one pet on a diet.
Is there a better way to approach the topic?  Let us know! This vet needs your input as to what the best “weigh” to talk to pet owners about when Fido the pooch develops, well, more than a pooch.

Dr. Laci

SIGNATURE DVM

Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM


Just keep an eye on it? The unseen raises questions about what is fair in life.

November 14th, 2011
The following story is about one of my favorite patients ever: Jake

“My other vet told me to just keep an eye on it”

“It’s been there for a year and hasn’t changed so I have just been keeping an eye on it”

“I don’t have the money to do that microscope thing, I’ll just keep an eye on it”

Veterinarians and pet owners alike have been keeping a keen eye on lots of terrible things.  I personally have, against my will, kept an eye on torturous allergies, Cushing’s disease, probable mast cell tumors, ear infections, and a myriad of horrible and curable, illnesses, conditions, and cancers. But I can’t spend people’s money for them.  I can only educate them and hope (and often pray) that they make the move and the sacrifice.

The Egyptian Papyrus of Kahun (from approximately 1900 BCE) offered the first written record of veterinary medicine.  Ironically, The Eye of Horus (the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol) is the symbol of protection, royal power, and good health.  Maybe that’s where vets and pet owners got the expression, “keep an eye on it.”

But there are those pet owners that I really feel sorry for – the ones that wanted to do something and were told to keep an eye on it.  I have to change his name, but lets talk about the most wonderful Boxer I ever met, Jake.

Read the rest of this entry »